New Grants Support a Deeper Understanding of Health Outcomes

Date: 01/27/17

Leaders of the Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change™ weren’t quite sure what to expect when they issued their first call for proposals in September, but they knew exactly what kind of research projects they were hoping to support: those that would further their understanding of health-related behaviors and lead to better health outcomes for members.

Five proposals led by faculty members from Washington University in St. Louis were selected. Each will look into key questions affecting healthcare utilization and health outcomes in Medicaid populations.

“There were a lot of very strong proposals, and each of those chosen brings a different contribution,” says Michal Grinstein-Weiss, principal investigator at the Envolve Center. “Although the Center supports nine other projects, this is our first set of analytic studies.  In the future, we hope to initiate more. Meanwhile, we are excited to see the results.”

The areas of study range from prevention of trauma-related injuries to smoking cessation to identifying factors leading to successful treatment for people with substance use disorders. Below is a quick look at the five research projects underway for better health outcomes:


Secondary prevention to reduce trauma recidivism and musculoskeletal injury

Patients who experience a traumatic injury have a higher risk of a second injury, potentially more serious than the first. This study will identify those risk factors among Centene health plan members, with the goal of preventing future injuries and serious life-long disability. It is also evaluating the influence of mental health and substance abuse disorders on the likelihood of a second trauma. Results will inform future behavior change strategies and potentially increase access to mental health resources.

Principal Investigator: Christopher Dy, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery


Associations between mental health, health behaviors, and type 2 diabetes

While assessing the mental health needs of Centene health plan members, researchers are examining the links between mental health conditions, lifestyle behaviors such as diet and smoking, and diabetes self-management. Findings will help determine how to better integrate health coaching and behavioral health counseling. They will also help other healthcare providers detect and treat mental health conditions among diabetics.

Principal Investigator: Darrell Hudson, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor at the Brown School of Social Work


Characterizing Medicaid smokers and utilization of tobacco-dependence treatment

This study leverages multiple data sources to better identify smokers among Centene health plan members and evaluate their access to treatment. If successful, this novel approach will improve the way Centene identifies smokers eligible for tobacco cessation programs and increase the number of members using these services.

Principal Investigator: Amy McQueen, PhD, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the School of Medicine


Impact of “Medicaid Fee Bump” on patient care access

This project is examining the impact of the “Medicaid fee bump,” an experiment that increased primary care reimbursement rates with the goal of improving access for Medicaid beneficiaries. Looking at how the policy affected physician behavior and healthcare utilization by individuals, investigators will determine if the goal of improved access was achieved. Results may be applied to other settings where reimbursement rates can impact patient care access.

Principal Investigator: Derek Brown, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Brown School of Social Work


Profiles and predictors of success in substance use disorder services

By analyzing health assessment, claims, provider and pharmacy data, researchers will develop health behavior profiles and predictors of success for members suffering from substance use disorders, including opioid and alcohol abuse. They will then use these identifiers to improve treatment strategies for Centene behavioral counseling and other community-based services.

Principal Investigator: David Patterson, PhD, Associate Professor at the Brown School of Social Work


“It’s interesting to note that several of the selected studies are looking at behavior change pathways which are working, rather than focusing on gaps in care or what doesn’t work,” says Karyn Quinn, co-principal investigator at the Envolve Center.  “In advancing that approach, The Center will be able to share the positive results with Centene health plans.”

About Envolve, Inc.®

Envolve, Inc.® is a family of health solutions, working together to make healthcare simpler, more effective and more accessible for everyone. As an agent for change in healthcare, Envolve is committed to transforming the health of the community, one person at a time. Envolve unifies specialty pharmacyPBMvisiondental24/7 nurse advice servicesdiabetes managementMSO solutions, and more. For more information, please visit our website or contact us at