Los Angeles County WIC Programs: Developing Infrastructure for Partnered Research

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Los Angeles County Women, Infants and Children (LAC WIC) programs provide supplemental nutrition, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income pregnant women or women with children …

Los Angeles County Women, Infants and Children (LAC WIC) programs provide supplemental nutrition, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income pregnant women or women with children under age 5 who are at nutritional risk. Although LAC WIC programs are often approached with research requests, they do not have a strategic plan to vet, manage or optimize in-house research. This project will create a strategic plan that will provide guidelines and tools to facilitate research of interest to LAC WIC leaders, participants, staff and academics.

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  • 1. DEVELOPING INFRASTRUCTURE TO INCREASE THE VOLUME, SCOPE AND QUALITY OF PARTNERED TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH BETWEEN WIC PROGRAMS AND THE UCLA CTSI Moira Inkelas, PhD, UCLA Terry Silberman, DrPH, LA BioMed/SLAHP WIC May Wang, PhD, UCLA Shannon Whaley, PhD, PHFE WIC CTSI CERP Learning Network Dec 4, 2012
  • 2. About Los Angeles County WIC Programs- Serve about 400,000 participants annually (two-thirds of infants born in Los Angeles)- Abut 98% of income-eligible families (<185% FPL) participate- Seven (7) WIC programs with more than 70 neighborhood centers- Most participants visit monthly or bimonthly- Visits involve individual and group education in health/nutrition
  • 3. Background- LAC WIC programs serve low-income women, infants and children throughout LA County- WIC programs are often approached with research requests by independent investigators- There have been limited coordinated research partnerships to date between local academic institutions and the LAC WIC programs- Local WIC programs do not have a strategic plan to vet, manage, or optimize in-house research
  • 4. Research Questions• What research topics and methods are WIC clients willing to participate in?• What data collection methods and study designs are WIC leaders willing to undertake?• What are the key functions, in terms of direct services, processes, and preparation of CTSI investigators and research staff, and WIC program leaders and staff, to work effectively with each other?
  • 5. Research Questions (Continued)• What key processes need to be in place, and standardized, to streamline partnered research? – Examples include IRB templates, and protocols for methods such as recruitment, data collection, and client tracking.• What are the costs of essential infrastructure? How could costs be captured so that the infrastructure is sustainable and reliable for current and future partnerships? – Examples including establishing protocols; reviewing potential studies to determine if WIC will participate; implementing protocols, training front-line staff on protocols as appropriate
  • 6. Methods• Focus groups with WIC Participants• Discussion with WIC Directors, lead staff• Document process flow for research activities, using historical and contemporary research projects• Prototype and refine cost estimates
  • 7. Accomplishments• Established relationships across institutions, laying foundation for future collaboration• Identified research priorities relevant to each of the LAC WIC programs• Documented research processes at WIC• Initiated a strategic plan for research infrastructure (in process)• Identified common interests across academics, WIC directors, staff, and participants
  • 8. Scale and SpreadThe strategic plan will provide guidelines and tools that can be applied by each of the seven LAC WIC programs• Establish research priorities• Protocols for research requests• Explicit parameters for research at WIC, use of WIC data or contact with WIC participants• Cost estimates• Cost recovery tools•
  • 9. Still Underway…• Complete focus groups• Summarize findings• Document WIC program research priorities• Finalize research process flow• Prototype cost estimates• Finalize strategic plan/tools
  • 10. What’s Next?• Identify research priorities that are of interest to CTSI investigators - WIC participant retention - Effective messaging for behavior change - Gestational weight gain - Childhood obesity• Identify resources and infrastructure needed to support research functions• Explore development of training grant
  • 11. Lessons Learned• Working across institutions requires additional time to work out details of the IRB review process, even with new harmonization protocols• Infrastructure at each of the LA County WIC programs varies significantly, but common research protocols/guidelines/toolkit can serve all of the programs
  • 12. Added Value• CERP contract has led to strengthened relationships and collaboration between investigators at the two largest LAC WIC programs and UCLA• Project has provided a platform to obtain input on research interests from the other LAC WIC programs