Center for Research on Women with Disabilities - Prospectus 2010
The Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD) was established in 1993 as a part of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine, under the direction of Margaret A. Nosek, Ph.D. Its mission is to enhance the physical, psychological, social health of women with disabilities so that they may be fully participating members of their communities. The proportion of women with disabilities in the population of the United States is substantial and growing According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are more than 26 million women with disability-related work limitations, comprising nearly 25 percent of the population of women. They face significantly higher rates of unemployment and poverty, and are confronted with more serious barriers to obtaining education, Social Security benefits, health care, and health insurance than men with disabilities and women in general. Toward the goal of finding solutions to these problems, the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities conducts a range of research, education, training, and developmental activities.
Since its inception, CROWD has conducted research studies on health promotion and wellness, abuse, reproductive health, sexuality, independent living, and access to health care for women with disabilities. The centers researchers have developed and tested numerous cognitive-behavioral interventions to help women with physical disabilities improve their health and functioning in daily life. These interventions have focused on general health promotion, self-esteem enhancement, stress reduction, depression, and aging-related health issues for women with disabilities. Most recent projects have tested the implementation of these interventions on the Internet and in Internet-based 3-D virtual environments. Funding for these studies has come from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research at the U.S. Department of Education, Houston Endowment, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America Education and Training Foundation. This research uses a variety of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, including consultation with experts, survey questionnaires, individual and focus group interviews, intervention development and testing, observation, and analysis of data tapes from the U.S. Census. Over 2,500 women have participated in CROWD's studies to date. Recruitment is conducted primarily through the chronic care clinics of the Harris Health System, The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, Methodist Hospital, and other local hospitals, as well as independent living centers nationwide.
Education and Training
Faculty at CROWD developed a training curriculum for primary care physicians entitled, "Gynecological Considerations in the Treatment of Women with Physical Disabilities". To date, more than 300 physicians have participated in this continuing medical education accredited training program. Investigators regularly give continuing medical education presentations on research findings at conferences of major national academic organizations, such as the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, American Public Health Association, American Psychological Association, Association for Health Services Research, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Findings from our research are disseminated through a variety of channels. We regularly submit articles for publication in academic peer reviewed journals, with a focus on reaching clinicians, educators, and researchers. Through articles in disability-related magazines, we are able to reach consumers and their families. Our web site (www.bcm.edu/crowd) was established in 1993, and is updated regularly to include pages on our latest research findings in health and wellness, psychosocial health, reproductive health and sexuality, access to health care, violence prevention, and community living. In addition to information about CROWD's research activities and its faculty and staff, the web site offers visitors a mechanism for reviewing and ordering our publications and materials, and communicating questions directly to us. Information is also disseminated using the print and broadcast media and webcasts. Summary reports and fact sheets on research findings are available on the CROWD website. Video tapes of several presentations by Dr. Nosek are available for use in educational settings.
CROWD faculty and staff also provide individualized information and training. Approximately 1,000 inquiries were received in the past year by e-mail, regular mail, the CROWD toll-free hotline, or personal contact from researchers, graduate students, clinicians, and women with disabilities and their families. Research training is a major activity of CROWD faculty. Dr. Nosek served as director of an NIH NRSA-funded program to offer medical rehabilitation research training to post-doctoral fellows throughout the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Development and Operations
CROWD operates on an annual budget of approximately $450,000. Over the past 17 years, its investigators have successfully completed externally funded grants totaling more than $10 million. An additional $1.5 million in research projects have been completed in collaboration with other principal investigators in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Our major collaboration is with Dr. Rosemary Hughes and her team of women's health investigators at the University of Montana Rural Institute. Funds are raised primarily through the preparation of applications for grants from federal agencies and private philanthropic foundations. Advisory committees of consumers, clinicians, researchers, educators and representatives of the media regularly guide the development of CROWD. CROWD offices are located in a recreational facility specifically developed to meet the needs of people with disabilities that is operated by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department. It fully complies with the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.