PPD grants target improved outcomes

Two awards aim to deliver more effective and economical services to people with disabilities

Dr. Parthy Dinora

The Partnership for People with Disabilities, a center affiliated with the VCU School of Education, was recently awarded two grants totaling $692,000 that will help determine which services for people with disabilities lead to the most effective outcomes.

Identifying Predictors for Enhanced Outcomes for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

This three-year, $600,000 study – funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research – will determine what individual and service characteristics are associated with better outcomes for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and how these factors interact with costs.

Dr. Parthy Dinora, principal investigator, said that this will be the first study of its kind in the U.S. to examine individual data sets rather than aggregate data.

“There is significant investment in Medicaid services, particularly in the area of intellectual and developmental disabilities, so it is important to understand what services and supports lead to the best outcomes,” Dinora said. “Our analysis will look at the relationship between what people need, what they get, and how they do from an outcome perspective, to better inform policy decisions and investment in different service categories.”

Drs. Michael Broda from the School of Education and Matthew Bogenschutz from the School of Social Work are collaborators on the project.

Special Olympics International

The Partnership also recently received a $92,000 award from Special Olympics International (SOI) to provide consultation on measuring health outcomes for athletes around the world.

Dinora, principal investigator, said that while there is a great disparity in health outcomes between people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the general population, SOI is actively trying to close the gap.

“A lot of people know about Special Olympics’ athletic events, but most people don’t know that SOI does a lot to improve overall health outcomes for these athletes, including nutrition, fitness and social/emotional education outside of athletic competition,” she said.

Dinora said that more work needs to be done to improve health outcomes such as improved rates of blood pressure, obesity and hypertension for people with disabilities. To assist SOI with that, the Partnership will help develop objective measures of outcomes based on the programming that is being developed by SOI.

The Partnership’s Kayla Diggs Brody, Angela West and Kit Hammar will join Dinora in conducting this work with the SOI team and international partners.