Current WREN Research Projects

Principal Investigator:  Annette Totten, PhD – Oregon Health & Science University

Project Summary:  This project is designed to address the PCORI-identified need “for evidence to support adults with advanced illnesses and their caregivers in care planning over time so that care is consistent with their goals and preferences”.  This will be a cluster-randomized trial comparing team-based versus primary care clinician-focused advance care planning in practice-based research networks.

Funding Agency:  Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)

Principal Investigator:  Olayinka Shiyanbola, PhD – UW Madison School of Pharmacy

Project Summary:  Surveys will be distributed to African American patients with Type II Diabetes taking oral medications to understand their attitudes around medication adherence. The survey will be repeated after 6 months to gauge if any changes in attitudes have occurred. These data will form the basis for developing appropriate interventions for increasing medication adherence that can be tested in future studies.

Funding Agency:  UW Madison – School of Pharmacy

Principal Investigator: Paul Smith, MD (PI)

Project Summary: Our primary goal is to pilot test the effectiveness of a promising behavioral change program to improve communication between caregivers of older adults and healthcare professionals with a randomized wait-list controlled trial. We will evaluate a program developed and tested in 2014 which significantly improved communication confidence for a small sample of caregivers of older adults in rural Wisconsin.

Funding Agency: American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)

Principal Investigator:  Eric Simpson, MD, MCR – Oregon Health & Science University

Project Summary:  This is a pragmatic, multi-site, randomized community-based trial in which dyads of a parent or legal guardian (“parent”) and an infant age 0 to 2 months are enrolled

to test the hypothesis that a skin care regimen utilizing emollient therapy from birth can prevent or delay onset of atopic dermatitis.

Funding Agency: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH-NIAMS)

Principal Investigator:  Amye Tevaarwerk, MD – UW SMPH Carbone Cancer Center

Project Summary:  Our interdisciplinary team of experts in oncology, cancer survivorship, primary care and engineering will identify the necessary elements to develop a PCP-centered care plan from an existing patient-centered and EHR-based care plan. Collaborating with a large primary care research network, we propose a 12-month study relying on systems engineering approaches to accomplish this re-design.

Funding Agency:  University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (UW ICTR)

Principal Investigator:  Meghan Brennan, MD, MS – UW SMPH, Dept of Infectious Diseases

Project Summary: Long-term objective is to reduce the risk of major amputation and death for rural patients with diabetic foot ulcers by developing and implementing interventions that promote integrated care in the rural, ambulatory setting.  Primary objective in this proposal, which is the next step in pursuit of that goal, is to identify existing, ad hoc strategies developed by rural providers, and barriers they continue to face, when attempting to provide integrated care for rural patients with diabetic foot ulcers.

Funding Agency:  Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (UW ICTR) Community Academic Partnerships (CAP)

Principal Investigator:  Matthew Halanski, MD – UW SMPH Department of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation

Project Summary:  This project is a combination of retrospective and prospective chart review to develop a comprehensive database of interventions and outcomes of children with SMA, and to develop a prospective, PROM-based data collection method for future project development.

Funding Agency: UW SMPH – Department of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation

Principal Investigator:  Elizabeth Burnside, MD, MPH, MS, FACR – UW SMPH, Dept of Radiology

Project Summary:  This project will seek to optimize the Shared Decision Making Process of mammography screening for women aged 65 and over.  The project will utilize a risk-assessment tool and will engage both patients and primary care clinicians in development of an optimum screening dialogue.

Funding Agency:  National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute

Principal Investigator:  Corrine Voils, PhD – UW SMPH, Dept of General Surgery

Project Summary:  This study will provide critical insight into the efficacy of systematically involving domestic partners to optimize long-term weight loss. Results from the mediation analyses will provide unique knowledge about the mechanisms underlying a couples’-based approach for patient weight management. As such, the results will inform future intervention refinements to optimize patient outcomes and scalability. Completion of this study will contribute to our long-term goal of identifying and implementing efficacious, cost-effective approaches to reduce obesity and associated outcomes.

Funding Agency:  National Institutes of Health (R01)

Principal Investigator: Robin L Gal, M.S.P.H., C.C.R.A.

Project Summary: This pilot study will assess whether initiating CGM remotely (outside of the clinic setting) using a Peer trainer can be performed safely and effectively and will test procedures that could be used in a larger subsequent study.

Funding Agency: Helmsley Trust

Principal Investigator: Andrew Quanbeck

Project Summary: The goal of the proposed project is to determine which combination of strategies—physician-led audit and feedback, organizational facilitation, and physician-to-physician peer coaching—works most effectively in different clinics, based on an assessment of their organizational needs. It may be that in some clinics, audit and feedback alone suffices for improvement. If more intensive help is required, facilitation and/or physician-to-physician peer coaching can be added.

Funding Agency: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Principal Investigator:  Sarina Schrager, MD, MS – UW SMPH Department of Family Medicine & Community Health

Project Summary:  Propose to develop, pilot and implement an integrated clinic team training program to address knowledge, perceptions, Shared Decision Making (SDM) competence, and cost concerns to improve the use of SDM with average-risk patients eligible for breast and lung cancer screening. Ultimately, the hope is that this training will increase provision of SDM in cancer screening across the UW Health enterprise.

Funding Agency: UW Health Innovations Grant

Principal Investigator:  Aleksandra Zgierska, MD, PhD – UW SMPH Department of Family Medicine & Community Health

Project Summary:  A Comparative Effectiveness Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation versus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Opioid-Treated Chronic Low Back Pain

This randomized, controlled trial will test the relative benefit of Mindfulness Meditation (MM) vs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in improving outcomes for patients with chronic low-back pain treated with opioids.

Funding Agency:  Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)

Principal Investigator: Tosha Wetterneck, UW Medicine

PI Department: Department of Family Medicine & Community Health

Summary of Study: An Industrial Engineering initiated project as follow up to SAFE-C concentrating on the cognitive workload of EMR use.

Objective: The purpose of this project is to develop and test electronic health record (EHR) interface design requirements that support the cognitive work of primary care clinicians and their clinical teams.

The specific aims are

  • to identify the cognitive work requirements of primary care clinicians and teams, and
  • to develop and test specific EHR interface design requirements by performing usability testing of EHR prototypes with primary care clinicians.

Study Design: We will be using a specific method of CTA, namely, goal directed task analysis (GDTA). GDTA is a type of cognitive task analysis specifically designed for determining cognitive work requirements in order to design information technologies (IT) that support these requirements. The goal of GDTA is to develop IT that provides high levels of situation awareness (SA) for users by giving them the information they need and having them input the right information. For EHRs used by primary care clinicians and clinician teams, this would mean having EHR interfaces that (1) request meaningful information for the clinicians to enter and (2) display the right information for clinicians to produce quick, accurate, and complete pictures of the patients (i.e., the EHR provides high Situational Awareness). What is specifically innovative about GDTA is that it (1) focuses on goals, not tasks, and (2) determines cognitive work requirements so that IT can be developed that supports and extends the cognitive work of the users. GDTA takes information learned from observations and interviews of workers to create cognitive maps of individual and teams of worker’s goals, decision-making and information needs to understand the work that occurs; essentially a non-linear representation of work that can be used to create information technology, in our case, electronic heath records, that better supports the work to be done by individual clinicians and teams of clinicians.

Meta-Network Affiliations

Project Summary: Creation of research and learning consortium of 6 PBRNs: Oregon, Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Quebec to accelerate the conduct of PBRN research through a common infrastructure enabling the efficient conduct of research. The consortium will promote continuous learning across networks and practices for evidence dissemination and knowledge transfer.

Funding Agency: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Workshop: Multi-Network Research Collaboration: Steps to Success

Project Summary: A formal coalition of 5 geographically diverse, research-experienced PBRNs: the Oklahoma Physicians Resource/Research Network (OKPRN), the Upstate New York Network (UNYNET), the Los Angeles Research Network (LANet), the Wisconsin Research and Education Network (WREN), and the Oklahoma Child Health Research Network (OCHRN), and a Coordinating Center, Westat. By formally linking 4 academic health centers and a private research organization, we will dramatically expand the range of methodological and clinical content expertise available on projects. Through their work with CoCoNet, they will have the resources to continue to nurture, expand, and sustain both local and coalition-wide learning communities that will influence primary care practices in four states.

Funding Agency: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Wisconsin Research & Education Network (WREN)

Join a Project

WREN is recruiting adult primary care practices that are interested in (1) being trained to provide advance care planning (ACP) and (2) participating in a comparative effectiveness study of two methods of delivering ACP to patients with limited life expectancy who are not already in hospice.

WREN is one of seven practice-based research networks in the United States and Canada that are a part of this Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funded project.

Training for participating clinics would not begin until late September 2018 at the earliest.

If you think this study might be a good fit for your clinic; please review the following one-pagers, General Study Information  and Practice Responsibilities.

If you are interested in learning more about how your clinic can participate, please contact Dr. David Hahn at or 608-265-5324.

Thank you to the clinics that have already agreed to participate in this project! We look forward to working with you.