New Opportunities for NetHaven

NetHaven, which grew out of the School of Nursing’s Advanced Practice Registered Nurses’ Research Network (APRNet), has become a large interdisciplinary practice-based research network with a membership that includes about 800 health care providers. APRNet was the first practice-based research network for advanced practice nurses to be funded by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; it served as a model for engaging community-based health care practitioners in research and facilitating the translation of research findings into clinical practice. NetHaven merges APRNet’s infrastructure and community practices with YCCI resources and expertise in study design, analysis, and regulatory support, paving the way for larger and more sophisticated clinical research studies within the community.

Nancy Redeker, Ph.D., RN, the School of Nursing associate dean for scholarly affairs, has recently taken over as director of NetHaven, whose members represent over 200,000 health care consumers in the New Haven area. NetHaven is unique in that only a quarter of its membership is comprised of physicians; nurse practitioners continue to account for a majority of its ranks.

Because NetHaven has an urban focus, Redeker’s vision includes working with the Cultural Ambassadors program in connection with research projects. “NetHaven has always been about primary care in underserved populations, so energizing that group will be a natural partnership,” she said. She also hopes to generate research data and research questions from Epic, Yale New Haven Health System’s electronic medical record system, which is due to roll out in Yale-New Haven Hospital in February. “It’s an uncharted area in terms of research, especially in primary care settings, looking at how it facilitates providing that kind of care,” said Redeker.

NetHaven research projects have involved such health centers as the Fair Haven Community Health Center and the Yale-New Haven Community Medical Group, but Redeker believes there are a number of centers and opportunities that could be leveraged. NetHaven has already played a role in a number of research studies that are having a positive impact on the health of the community. One example is Bright Bodies, a weight management program that employs a family-based intensive lifestyle intervention specially tailored to the needs of inner-city minority children. Another is a study of tobacco and alcohol addiction by Stephanie O’Malley, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, which used NetHaven to recruit subjects. NetHaven offers the potential for multiple levels of interaction—for example, an infrastructure for providers or investigators generating research ideas; recruitment for existing studies; or dissemination of evidence-based research into practice, notes Redeker. 

“It’s a challenging time, given that research budgets are shrinking,” she said, “But there are opportunities around the diverse community we have in New Haven and the various centers we have at Yale.”