Danielle Varda Co-PI on $500,000 Grant

Million Hearts logoAssociate Professor Danielle Varda was awarded a $500,000 grant by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Varda is co-PI with the RAND Corporation on the grant, titled “A Social Network Analysis and Qualitative Assessment of Partnership for the Million Hearts Initiative.”

Here is a summary of the project from the proposal that was submitted:

The RAND Corporation and the University of Colorado at Denver offer unparalleled depth and breadth of experience and the requisite expertise to assess the partnerships of the Million Hearts Initiative (MHI). RAND’s nationally recognized expertise in public health, health policy, innovation, and program evaluation—combined with the credibility and expertise in social network analysis (SNA) and translating network data to practice—and UCD’s SNA and dissemination capabilities offer HHS an exceptional partnership with the skills and experience to efficiently and effectively complete the tasks in this RFTOP.

Working together, we will:

  1. assess the partnership engagement process and the level of communication among partners in the MHI;
  2. assess changes in activities, policies, programs, or systems that have occurred as a result of the initiative;
  3. identify facilitators and barriers of public/private partnerships with the federal government;
  4. use the information developed through this research to inform future partner efforts.

This proposal brings together a skilled team of researchers and public health practitioners with expertise in SNA, cardiovascular disease and the MHI, qualitative methods, and conducting environmental scans. Also, this research team provides ongoing research and evaluation to communities across the nation, including technical assistance, training, and translation of results into practice, with a focus on a range of health and public health issues.

Dr. Malcolm Williams (MPP, PhD, Harvard University) will lead the proposed work as Project Director (PD), with expertise in health and public policy and community-partnered projects. He will rely on substantial input from Dr. Ryan Brown (PhD, Emory University), who will serve as the RAND co-PD, and Dr. Danielle Varda (PhD, UCD)—a nationally recognized expert on SNA who will work closely with Dr. Williams and the RAND team on behalf of UCD and will serve as co-PD. Together these researchers have 40 years working in public health and public policy research. Carsten Baumann from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will serve as a consultant and the primary expert on the practice community involved in MHI in Colorado and nationally.

This project includes an environmental scan (including a literature review of both peer-reviewed and grey literature), key informant interviews (e.g. state, local and national stakeholders or policymakers), and a social network analysis of the MHI. We see these tasks as interrelated, with the environmental scan informing the protocols for the qualitative interviews and SNA and identifying participants for both; the qualitative interviews, in turn, will refine the protocol for the SNA and further aid in bounding the network for it.

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