Survey designed by Melissa Clark will assess needs of veterans with upper-limb amputations

March 10, 2017

UMass Medical School is working closely with researchers at Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center on a national study to examine the needs of veterans and active duty service members who have major upper-limb amputations. Melissa Clark, PhD, senior director of research and evaluation for Commonwealth Medicine, said the study is a great example of the school’s commitment to improving the lives of veterans.

As part of the $2.5 million research study, Dr. Clark, along with a team from Commonwealth Medicine’s Office of Survey Research, will collaborate to develop the survey questionnaire. They will also be responsible for the data collection, which will involve conducting telephone interviews with veterans and active duty service members to evaluate their day-to-day functioning and learn about their experiences with prosthetics.

“A lot of questions in the survey will ask about the quality of life of amputees and their needs,” said Clark, also a professor of quantitative health sciences. “We are hoping to find out more about experiences with amputation rehabilitation, prosthesis prescription, daily functioning and quality of life. We also want to learn more about where these amputees receive care, how they perceive the care received, and what has or has not been helpful for them in the care received.”

The study’s lead investigator is Linda Resnik, a rehabilitation research career scientist at Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center and professor at Brown University. As part of the new study, researchers are hoping to understand satisfaction with currently available prostheses and amputation care; quality of care delivery within the VA and Department of Defense; and willingness to consider surgical interventions to obtain advanced technologies. After the questionnaire is finalized and approved by the VA, Clark and her team will begin conducting telephone interviews with a large sample of veterans and active duty service members who have amputation at the wrist level or above.

“If we can better understand the aspects of prostheses and care that are important to veterans with upper-limb amputations, we are hopeful that we can improve the quality of the care they receive, and ultimately improve their quality of life,” Clark explained.

The study is funded by the United States Department of Defense’s Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes Research Program.

The U.S Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office.

This work was supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, through the Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes Research Program Prosthetics Outcomes Research Award under Award No. W81XWH-16-0794. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense.

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