Dr. Darius Tandon,PhD, Associate Director of the Northwestern University Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM) Center for Community Health, has been approved for a $2.1 million funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to compare the effectiveness of clinicians and paraprofessionals to reduce disparities in perinatal depression.
The project will be conducted throughout Illinois with a network of home visiting (HV) programs that serve a racially and ethnically diverse group of pregnant women and new mothers. Most HV programs use paraprofessional home visitors to deliver services. Currently, there are no interventions led by non-health or non-mental health professionals that have been determined to be effective in preventing the onset and worsening of postpartum depression among low-income women. Over the past five years, Dr. Tandon along with academic colleagues and community stakeholders have collaborated on research studies that have shown one intervention—the Mothers and Babies Course (MB)—is effective in preventing the onset and worsening of depressive symptoms when led by mental health professionals. This PCORI project will determine whether paraprofessional home visitors can achieve similar reductions in depressive symptoms and prevention of new cases of major depression as mental health professionals when delivering MB. It will also examine key patient-centered outcomes including quality of life, parenting practices, and relationship with one’s partner. An Operations Team consisting of researchers, policy-makers, clinicians, community organizations, and patients guided the development of this project and will continue to provide governance during implementation and dissemination of study findings.
“I am thrilled to be able to work with colleagues at Northwestern and stakeholders across Illinois on this PCORI project. Perinatal depression is a pressing concern for home visiting programs and this research has the potential to improve mental health outcomes for a large number of women and, in turn, positively affect their parenting practices,” Dr. Tandon said.
“This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options,” said PCORI Executive Director Dr. Joe Selby. “We look forward to following the study’s progress and working with Northwestern University to share the results.”
Dr. Tandon was selected for PCORI funding through a highly competitive review process in which patients, clinicians, and other stakeholders joined clinical scientists to evaluate the proposals. Applications were assessed for scientific merit, how well they will engage patients and other stakeholders, and their methodological rigor among other criteria.
Dr. Tandon’s award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.
PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions. For more information about PCORI’s funding, visit www.pcori.org.