Clinical Outcomes and Behavioral Science Unit

Leaders: Kerri Cavanaugh, MD, MHS and Adriana Hung, MD, MPH

MembersKhaled Abdel-Kader, Gurjeet Birdee, Kelly Birdwell, Jamie Dwyer, Rachel FissellAlp Ikizler, Julia Lewis, Matt Luther, Edward Siew, Francesca Tentori

The Clinical Outcomes and Behavioral Science Unit is co-directed by Drs. Cavanaugh and Hung. Dr. Kerri Cavanaugh is nationally recognized for her contributions in the development of valid novel measures of objective and perceived kidney knowledge, diabetes-specific numeracy, and also the impact of educational/behavioral interventions on patient-reported outcomes in diabetes. Dr. Cavanaugh has experience and expertise in survey design, validation and administration, development of educational interventional materials, protocol and training development, and also in the execution of trials to examine educational/behavioral interventions. Dr. Adriana Hung’s primary research interest is chronic inflammation and its consequences in chronic kidney disease, including cardiovascular disease (CKD) and CKD progression. Within the determinants of inflammation, she has focused on the relationship of inflammation with insulin resistance, oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction. Dr. Hung is also involved in studies evaluating risk factors for progression in diabetic nephropathy, including a pharmaco-epidemiology project funded by AHRQ, the VA-Nephron D study looking at diabetic kidney disease progression, as a VA site for the SPRINT study and the Million Veteran Program, an initiative from the VA system to create a biobank for personalized medicine. 

Epidemiology/Biostatistics Subunit:  Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants (including genetics) of diseases in populations. A countless number of health-related questions of societal importance are addressed through epidemiologic research.  Our group of epidemiologists and clinical investigators use a myriad of epidemiologic research methods to conduct observational, genetic and experimental research on the prevention and treatment of human disorders.  Additionally our group has extensive experience in studying the most effective clinical approaches to disease (comparative effectiveness) and integrative epidemiology. Varying levels of expertise are also available for consultation, from bachelors and masters level trained biostatisticians and computer systems analysts to full professors.

Behavioral Science Subunit:  Across all areas of research within the translational continuum, clinical outcomes are critical to understanding the mechanisms and impact of interventions in the objective to cure kidney disease. Successful execution of studies including physiological, psychological, and behavioral assessments depends upon investigators selecting reliable and valid methods during the developmental phases of their research project. The primary objectives of this Unit is to be a resource to investigators for: 1). determination of clinical or behavioral outcome most appropriate given the research question, 2). selection of the optimal measurement tool available for the specified research, and when no instrument currently exists, to assist investigators with the development and validation of novel measures, 3). instruction and training for the implementation and administration of selected clinical and behavioral measures, and 4). assistance with analysis, including psychometrics for novel survey measures. In addition, resources within the Vanderbilt University environment is available for consultation including faculty in the Center for Health Services Research and Program on Effective Health Communication . Experts in health literacy, numeracy, risk communication, medical decision making, patient-centered communication, cross-cultural communication, and use of health information technology, representing medical, nursing, psychology, education, and biostatistics disciplines provide a substantial range of readily available expertise to investigators seeking assistance from this Unit.