Joint Research Including URP Faculty Awarded $6M in NIH ComPASS Funds

A joint research project including Doctors Zeenat Kotval-Karamchandani and Mark Wilson of SPDC’s Urban & Regional Planning program received $6M in funding via the NIH’s Common Fund Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) award.

A joint research project led by Feonix – Mobility Rising, an organization with offices in Dallas, TX and Detroit, MI, has been selected to receive funding through the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Common Fund Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) award. Michigan State University’s School of Planning, Design and Construction faculty, Dr. Zeenat Kotval-Karamchandani and Dr. Mark Wilson, will join the research effort. The proposed research will answer the question of whether removing transportation barriers through a Transportation Assistance Hub (TAH) improves health outcomes and reduces health disparities.

The researchers suggest that a lack of transportation – caused by factors such as cost and access – results in delayed or even ignored healthcare treatment. This disparity exacerbates pre-existing inequalities in health outcomes for marginalized communities. The implementation of TAH’s will provide easier access to transportation for communities in Dallas and Detroit. Their aim is to show that by providing access to transportation and support in navigating resources, riders will experience improvements on health and well-being.

SPDC’s Urban and Regional Planning faculty, Doctors Zeenat Kotval-Karamchandani and Mark Wilson, will represent MSU in this research effort. The MSU team will be looking at what type of healthcare facility gets utilized when access is provided through TAH’s. They will investigate how these facilities differ from the ones utilized prior to the intervention and what factors cause this shift if there is one.

“As planners, we are interested in knowing what particular aspect of the social determinants of health can be improved to help improve the health of residents, especially marginalized communities,” said Dr. Kotval-Karamchandani.

Kotval-Karamchandani and Wilson will use origin-destination data from the proposed TAH intervention to track whether residents utilize the increased transportation access to seek primary, or preventative, healthcare or if they seek reactive healthcare such as urgent cares and emergency rooms. This data will be compared to a baseline understanding of the tendency toward preventative versus reactive healthcare, obtained through surveys conducted prior to the TAH intervention. As a population with a higher likelihood to delay or ignore treatment, adults over the age of 65 will be particularly examined.

The ComPASS funds will amount to roughly $6 million over the course of the award. The research team consists of over twenty non-profit and community organizations as well as Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University Transportation Institute, and the University of Michigan. The project is funded by the NIH Common Fund through award number OT2OD035839.

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