Eighteen sites selected to evaluate effectiveness of eHealth technologies

Chestnut Hill 09 September 2003Seeking to realize the full potential of the emerging field of eHealth, the use of interactive technologies to improve health behaviour and disease management, eighteen sites have been awarded $4,8 million in grants by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through its Health e-Technologies Initiative national programme.


The number of health care consumers and providers using eHealth applications, particularly the Internet, to seek health information and communicate with others is rapidly increasing. According to the Boston Consulting Group, 80 percent of the 140 million adults who are on-line in the United States have used the Internet to look for health information and 96 percent of all physicians used Internet technology in 2002.

In addition to using the Internet to enable and improve health and health care services, technologies such as interactive TV, interactive voice response systems, kiosks, personal digital assistants (PDAs), CD-ROMs, and DVD-ROMs can also be characterized as eHealth applications.

"Interactive health technologies can offer people the ability to obtain and use reliable health information and care services for health behaviour change and disease management at a relatively low cost", stated Robin Mockenhaupt, Ph.D., M.P.H., RWJF deputy group director, health group. "While some eHealth initiatives have a promising early track record, clearly more understanding is needed about the design methodology as well as the potential impact for patients and consumers."

Grant awards range from one to three years, and the grantees will focus on one of two categories: projects that address methodology and design challenges in evaluating eHealth applications; or, projects that evaluate the outcomes of existing applications.

The list of grantees in the Methodology and Design Category includes:

  • Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas: Factors Influencing Log-On Rates in an eHealth Obesity Prevention Programme and Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity to 8-10 Year Old African American Girls, led by Dr. Debbe Thompson
  • Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts: Development of a Longitudinal Qualitative Methods Manual and Quantitative Instrument for Evaluating Use of Multi-Contact eHealth Technologies by Patients and Consumers, led by Dr. Ramesh Farzanfar
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation and Evaluation of a Discourse Coding System to Assess the Benefits of On-line Discussion on Mental and Physical Health led by Dr. Susan R. Fussell
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland: Measuring Exposure to On-line Health Messages Among Adolescents, led by Dr. Dina Borzekowski
  • Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas: Development of an eHealth Provider-Patient Communication Measure, led by Dr. Eve-Lynn Nelson
  • MedStar Research Institute, Washington, DC: Effectiveness Measures for Tele-rehabilitation, led by Dr. Susan E. Palsbo
  • Stanford University, Palo Alto, California: Reliability of Outcome Data Collected via Internet, led by Dr. Kate R. Lorig
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas: Validation of Quality Criteria for Health Information on the World Wide Web, led by Dr. Elmer Victor Bernstam
  • UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California: Evaluating the Effectiveness of an eHealth Application to Improve Chronic Disease Management by Urban, Minority Children, led by Dr. Adrian Martin Casillas
  • University of Washington, Seattle, Washington: An Evaluation Framework for eHealth Survey Applications, led by Dr. Bryant T. Karra

The list of grantees in the Outcome Evaluation Category includes:

  • HealthMedia Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan: Efficacy of a Web-Based Tailored Weight Management Programme With and Without Tailored Nutrition and Goal Setting Support, led by Dr. Kevin J. Wildenhaus
  • Stanford University, Palo Alto, California: Internet Diabetes Self-Management: A Randomized Trial, led by Dr. Kate R. Lorig
  • The Medstat Group, a business of the Thompson Corporation, Washington, DC: Assessment of a Hand-Held and Internet Information Technology System to Improve Management of Cancer Related Pain, Fatigue, and Depression, led by Dr. Tami L. Mark
  • The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania: Empowering Elders Through Technology, led by Dr. Kathryn H. Dansky
  • The Research Foundation of SUNY, Syracuse, New York: Using Tailored E-mails to Motivate Healthy Behaviour, Improve Health Status, and Reduce Health Care Costs in Employee Populations: A Randomized Trial, led by Dr. Patricia D. Franklin
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Health eCommunities: The Impact of Listservs on Cancer Patients, led by Dr. Barbara K. Rimer
  • University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California: Comparing the Effects of an Internet-Based to an Established Dyspnea Self-Management Programme on Dyspnea, Exercise Behaviour and Pulmonary Exacerbations in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), led by Dr. Virginia L. Carrieri-Kohlman
  • University of Washington, Seattle, Washington: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Diabetes Disease Management Over the Internet, led by Dr. Harold I. Goldberg

"We are confident that the portfolio of exemplary, cutting-edge research represented by these grantees will advance discovery in the field of eHealth and enable consumers and providers to benefit as a result", stated David K. Ahern, Ph.D., Health e-Technologies Initiative national programme director.

The Health e-Technologies Initiative national programme office will provide the evidence base and knowledge required to build better eHealth programmes. A resource and communication centre of tools and materials to help translate the research into practice is in development.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, New Jersey, is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to quality health care at a reasonable cost; to improve the quality of care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse, tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.

Leslie Versweyveld

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