Bridging a knowledge gap in the study of population health

Posted on September 26, 2016
Monique Liston in front of concrete facade

Monique Liston

The Center for Urban Population Health (CUPH) is entering its fifteenth year of operation at UWM. The Center was formerly directed by Professor of Health Informatics and Administration, Ron A. Cisler, PhD, who now serves as Dean for the College of Health Sciences. CUPH is now headed by Interim Director, David Frazer, MPH.

In this time of transition and new leadership for CUPH, recent UWM alum, Monique Liston, MPA, has taken it upon herself to examine the current state of CUPH’s progress toward accomplishing its vision, and to develop indicators that demonstrate the impact of CUPH in population health in urban communities.

Developing tools to measure success

Her proposal, “Measuring Impact on Population Health in Urban Communities: An Evaluation Plan for CUPH,” suggests tools for examining the breadth of CUPH’s impact in the community, and emphasizes the importance of nurturing relationships and the vital role of dissemination strategies to impact population health outcomes.

Liston hopes to fill a knowledge gap that she perceives is stunting the potential for CUPH to fully understand their positive impact in vulnerable communities in Milwaukee.

“CUPH does not currently have a comprehensive tool to measure its impact in vulnerable communities,” Liston said. “There is a need to develop precise indicators to help CUPH measure its success as partners with health institutions in Wisconsin so that they can advance population health research and education.”

Findings from Liston’s proposal suggest an innovative three-pronged evaluation design using social network analysis, practitioner reflections and dissemination analysis to be completed by CUPH staff over the next year.

 “Innovation is the key to making a difference”

Liston’s research was funded through Graduate Education Diversity Internship Program, which provides paid internship and training opportunities to students from groups traditionally under-represented in the field. The goals of the GEDI Program are to expand the pool of graduate students of color and from other under-represented groups and to deepen the profession’s capacity to work in racially, ethnically and culturally diverse settings.

For her participation in the program, Liston received an $8,000 stipend to cover any associated costs. Liston joins a cohort of interns from a variety of disciplines including public health, education, political science, anthropology, psychology, sociology, social work, and the natural sciences. Though GEDI students come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, they all share a strong background in research skills and a commitment to developing culturally responsive evaluation practices.

As the former director for CUPH, Dean Cisler commends Liston for her innovative pursuit of stronger methods for impact measurement. “The Center does such important work that routinely improves the lives of so many in our community. Liston’s work helps us to understand the full extent of that impact, knowledge that can also reveal potential for growth and improvement.”

Cisler continued. “Innovation is the key to making a difference in the pursuit of population health.”