UAMS Professor Helps Lead NIH-Funded Vaccine Hesitancy Study


UAMS Professor Helps Lead NIH-Funded Vaccine Hesitancy Study
UAMS College of Pharmacy professor Geoffrey Curran, who has been named a principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health-funded project aimed at addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in rural areas. (UAMS)

UAMS College of Pharmacy professor Geoffrey Curran has been named a principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health-funded project aimed at addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in rural areas.

The project will examine ways to support rural pharmacists as they implement COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy counseling practices to mitigate the negative impact of the virus, UAMS said in a news release. Conversations about COVID-19 vaccines can be sensitive and politically charged, so the team is working with rural pharmacists to identify the methods that work best for addressing hesitancy in a pharmacy setting.

The project has received $1.8 million in funding over three years from the NIH.

"I see this grant as a culmination of an idea we have had for a number of years — build a network of rural community pharmacies and then leverage their ideas, talent and commitment to move pharmacy practice forward," Curran said in the release. "As researchers we can do this by conducting large implementation-focused studies in partnership with these pharmacists."

A major goal of the project is to test how well virtual implementation helps pharmacists deliver vaccine counseling, and to what degree that enables more patients to receive the vaccine. The team will also perform a cost assessment and determine how sustainable these methods can be.

Delesha Carpenter, associate professor at the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy, is the contact principal investigator on the project.

"The communication intervention that we are developing is guided by the expertise of the pharmacists and patients who work in rural areas," she said in the release. "They are the drivers of the intervention’s content.

"For this reason, we believe the intervention will be salient to people living in rural areas and not sound like canned messaging that was developed by people who don’t understand the concerns of patients in these communities."