2012 YCCI ScholarMost older adults who experience fragility fractures don’t typically have osteoporosis; most of the fractures they experience are the result of a fall. Most of the HIV infected patients that Julie Womack, M.A., M.S.N., Ph.D., works with are in their mid 50s or younger, yet this population also experiences fragility fractures.
This led her to study falls in HIV-infected patients at the Yale AIDS Program’s Nathan Smith Clinic and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. Her Scholar award allowed her to collect quantitative and qualitative data to explore risk factors and ways to prevent falls in these patients.
The award was especially helpful in allowing her to use natural language processing to identify falls in clinical progress notes and radiology reports and conduct patient interviews at the clinic for the qualitative analysis. She learned that interventions designed to prevent falls among the elderly may not translate to the HIV population because of population differences between the elderly, who have been the focus of most falls studies, and younger, HIV infected patients. For example, while antipsychotic use, and drug and alcohol use have not, thus far, been common in elderly populations, they are important concerns among HIV infected groups. She also found that the qualitative research she was able to conduct was a great opportunity to get input from patients regarding the issues they face. She is now starting to identify modifiable risk factors for falls, as well as interventions.
Combining informatics and qualitative analysis allowed Dr.Womack to achieve a balanced view of the problem at hand. Big data sets, particularly in clinical epidemiology, provide invaluable information, but don’t tell the whole story. “I think there’s a lot that you miss if you just look at the numbers,” she said.
As a Scholar, she was interested in learning about research being conducted by other Scholars at the Research in Progress meetings and appreciated being able to delve into her research in a new way. “I couldn’t have done my research without it,” she said.
Project: 07/01/12 - 06/30/14
The Epidemiology of Falls in HIV Infection
Education & Training
|Board Certification||American College of Nurse-Midwives, Nurse Midwife (1994)|