Earlier this year, the UTHealth Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research (CHPPR) launched Take Care, Texas, an online resource for up-to-date information on COVID-19 testing in Texas. Take Care, Texas is a part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations (RADxUP) program, which aims to develop an adaptive intervention to increase COVID-19 testing in vulnerable communities.
The project operates in Harris County, Lower Rio Grande Valley, and East Texas, thanks to a collaboration between investigators at UTHealth School of Public Health campuses in Houston and Brownsville and a partnership with UTHealth Tyler through the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS). The RADxUP team identifies and tracks COVID-19 hot spots and uses targeted community engagement and Community Health Worker (CHW)-delivered education to encourage testing. They also develop organizational networks of COVID-19 services and examine the impact of different levels of intervention in these vulnerable communities.
“The right messaging is essential to communicating the importance of testing to vulnerable populations,” said Paula Cuccaro, PhD, and co-investigator on RADx/Take Care Texas. “The Take Care, Texas website is just one tool we use in our broad communications and outreach efforts that also include tailored social media and print materials.”
Web-based technology enables a Just In-Time Adaptive Intervention (JITAI) approach to engaging with communities. Data can be kept up-to-date and be delivered as needed to groups and individuals, and the content of the intervention can be adapted as needed. This is a major advantage for a situation that changes as rapidly as the COVID-19 pandemic.
RADxUP also leverages the existing infrastructure and expertise of CHPPR and the Texas Prevention Research Center (TPRC) at UTHealth. The PACE (Partners Accelerating Cancer Control Evidence) Network, which consists of city and county health departments as well as Federally Qualified Health Centers across the state, is key to organizing CHW training and technical assistance to increase the ability of CHWs and health centers to deliver COVID-19 interventions in high priority neighborhoods.
The Principal Investigators for RADxUP are David McPherson, MD, FACP, FACC, FAHA, Maria E. Fernandez, PhD, Marcia Otto, PhD, Kayo Fujimoto, PhD, Belinda Reininger, DrPH, and Paul McGaha, DO. Dr. Cuccaro and Lara Savas, PhD, lead the project’s community engagement efforts, including the online campaign. RADxUP is funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).