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Senior Citizens Needed for Study of Differences In Self-Care at University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

PITTSBURGH, October 16, 2001University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) is recruiting senior citizens with heart disease or osteoarthritis for a study comparing the ways that people with these chronic illnesses care for themselves, and how these differences affect outcome. The study is funded through a grant from the National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health.

Self-care behaviors include exercise; diet modification; taking medications, home remedies, vitamins or other herbal or nutritional supplements; prayer; abstention from smoking or drinking alcohol; doctor visits and other activities.

"Local senior citizens have a wonderful opportunity to help other seniors through participating in this study," said Myrna Silverman, Ph.D., professor of public health and anthropology, and the study’s principal investigator. "By telling us how they manage their illnesses, and what contributes to changes in such self-care, participants will be providing valuable information to the medical community that will translate into better and more appropriate care."

Researchers will conduct four personal and three telephone interviews over a period of 30 months to ask study participants questions about how they manage their illnesses. No visits to the university are required, and no treatments are provided. Information gathered will help researchers define how patients develop, maintain and change self-care behaviors, and how these behaviors are affected by changes in the disease, the patient’s environment and his or her own social and psychological characteristics. Results will show how these self-care behaviors affect the patient’s long-term quality of life and physical and mental health, and how self-care differences between blacks and whites, and between men and women, contribute to different outcomes.

A sample of Allegheny County residents over age 65 will receive a letter about the study from the Health Care Financing Administration (the federal agency that administers Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program), and a follow-up call by the university's study recruitment office. To be eligible for participation in the study, individuals must have either heart disease or osteoarthritis. If you have received a letter and would like more information, please call project coordinator Jennifer King at 1-877-624-2255.

Established in 1948, the GSPH at the University of Pittsburgh is world-renowned for contributions that have influenced public health practices and medical care for millions of people. It is the only fully accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States. It is one of eight schools across the country to be designated a Public Health Training Center by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information about the GSPH, access the school’s website at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.

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