Prof. to study nursing home quality

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Assistant Professor of Community Health Zhanlian Feng MA’99 PhD’02 has received a $10,000 medical research grant for his work on the quality of life in American nursing homes.

The grant is awarded by the Rhode Island Foundation and funded by 11 medical research funds that are pooled and awarded annually as seed funding to junior researchers, said Jean Cohoon, the foundation’s senior communications officer.

This year, Feng is the only Brown recipient out of 11 award recipients. He will be examining the results of a survey on the quality of life of all the certified nursing homes in the United States. He will also be investigating how nursing homes in Rhode Island fare in comparison with the national average.

“People have a very bad, negative impression of nursing homes,” Feng said about why he chose to research nursing homes. “They are always (associated with) scandals and poor quality of health in the mass media,” he added. “If people had alternatives, they wouldn’t send their parents there.”

Feng said, as he researched, he discovered a large amount of literature on “the quality of care in nursing homes.”

But, he said, “there’s very little literature on the quality of life – if residents feel at home and if they feel comfortable.”

Feng aims to finish his research by the middle of the year and has already submitted abstract results to AcademyHealth, a professional society for collaboration between health researchers and policy experts.

Though Feng is still working on completing his research, he has set his eyes on a more ambitious project for next year – nursing homes in China. He has applied for a grant and is waiting for a decision.

But Feng said he is grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation for their support on his research in America.

“(The grant is) small, but it’s nice,” he said. “Hopefully it will lead to bigger projects and external funding in the future.”

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