October 05, 2013
Joseph Moore

Seale Awarded Grant to Study Baby Boomers

Deborah Seale, Ph.D., assistant professor of health informatics and information management, will study the boomers' population ability to manage their health.

Deborah Seale, Ph.D.
Deborah Seale, Ph.D.

Deborah Seale, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Informatics and Information Management, has been awarded a grant to study baby boomers' ability and willingness to manage their health by understanding health information, partnering with their healthcare providers and using consumer health technology.

Baby boomers are the fastest growing segment of the patient population in the United States and due to longer life spans and aging, the population age 65 and older will double in the next 25 years. As a result of these demographical shifts, greater demand for healthcare services and a constant rise in healthcare costs, the nation's healthcare spending is projected to increase by 25 percent by 2030. These trends have led to the growing expectation that patients will assume greater responsibility for their own health.

The study is being conducted by a team of researchers including Cynthia LeRouge, Ph.D., associate professor, and Ricardo Wray, Ph.D., associate dean in the College for Public Health for Social Justice; Helen Lach, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Nursing; Donghua Tao, Ph.D., health sciences reference librarian in the Medical Center Library; and Jennifer Ohs, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Communication.

The research team will use focus groups to understand baby boomers perceptions about their personal health management goals, needs and practices. Information from the focus groups will be used to produce guidelines for healthcare providers and employers to more effectively focus their efforts and resources when acquiring or developing health management and wellness products. The team will also use the data for publications, presentations and future grant application.

The team has partnered with the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition, a non-profit organization representing St. Louis' employers on healthcare issues, to recruit study participants from area businesses. The STBHC has over 45 organizational members that employee more than 500,000 people.

This grant is being funded by the Saint Louis University Presidential Research Fund. The Presidential Research Fund supports promising projects that have strong potential to attract external funding.

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