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New $350,000 grant to aid AIMS model study

A new grant will aid the study of a social work intervention with clients in primary care settings.

Current literature is lacking in studies that show differential impact of social work interventions on quality of life, health and health care outcomes, said NASW member Victoria Rizzo, co-principal investigator of the Ambulatory Integration of Medical and Social model, which was developed at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

A new $350,000 grant from the Commonwealth Fund will further aid in the study of the AIMS model, which assesses the needs of patients and then provides risk-focused care coordination by master’s level social workers, said Rizzo, who is also department chair and associate professor at the Department of Social Work at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y.

The AIMS social worker assists patients with nonmedical needs that impact their medical care plan or physical condition, said NASW member Robyn Golden, who is the lead investigator of the AIMS Model and director of Health and Aging at Rush University Medical Center.

The goal of the study is to assess whether addressing nonmedical issues in addition to medical issues in primary care settings influences health care utilization, health outcomes, and satisfaction with health care service delivery for individuals with high health care needs and costs.

“Evidence demonstrating the positive and significant impact that social work interventions can have on health outcomes can be used to influence policy and reimbursement decisions that impact the social work profession,” Rizzo noted.

The AIMS model was implemented in five primary care clinics at Rush University Medical Center in 2012. Since that time, AIMS has served more than 700 individuals, who had significantly fewer hospital readmissions, emergency department visits and inpatient hospital stays after six months, compared with other clients, Rizzo said.

“This grant is a significant development in building the evidence base for the contribution of social work interventions in primary care settings,” she said.

It is important to note that the study of the AIMS model examines the impact of an intervention on the social determinants of health, specifically nonmedical needs, such as transportation and access to benefits, Golden explained.

The new study will examine individuals at six sites at the Rush University Medical Center primary care clinics. A portion of the grant will be used to pay for the program evaluation, which is being conducted by Binghamton University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

From the November 2015 NASW News.

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