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Catherine O’Brien, PhD, MPH – AVP and Director, Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging

Dr. O’Brien has worked in a research capacity for Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging since 2005. She has been responsible for designing and overseeing large-scale multi-year evaluations for grant-funded projects relating to the field of aging. As a Project Director on grant funded research projects, she has been responsible for forging collaborations with aging services organizations nationwide, and for recruiting older adults into various studies.

Dr. O’Brien’s academic training is in the areas of Epidemiology and Public Health/Community Health Sciences. Recent research topic areas include:

  • E-literacy among Older Adults
  • Senior Living Workforce Development
  • Person-Centered Care in Long-Term Care Communities
  • Emergency Preparedness

Sponsored Research (Selected):

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Funding Period: 12/01/09-11/31/10
REALPREP: Real-Time Planning and Training System to Improve Long-Term Care Disaster Preparedness
The aim of this project was to train participants on an online planning tool that promotes active updates to disaster plans and evaluate the usability and reliability of the tool. Role: As co-PI, responsible for the site-testing and evaluation of the program.

Illinois Department of Health:
Funding Period: 7/01/08-8/31/09
BEST CARE III: Developing Cultural Competency to Enhance Quality of Care
The aim of this project was to implement and evaluate an educational program to develop culturally competent care among LTC healthcare providers. Role: As co-PI, responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program.

Retirement Research Foundation:
Funding Period: 7/01/08-12/31/09
Sub-contract from National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO)
Staff Training and Education in Person-Centered Care for U.S. Catholic Retired Women and Men Religious: Phase II
The aim of this project was to implement and evaluate a training and education project in Person-Centered Care Best Practices for 90 religious institutes served by the National Religious Retirement Office. Role: As PI, responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program.

Illinois Department of Health:
Funding Period: 7/01/09-8/31/10
BEST CARE II: Communication Skills for Building Relationships
The aim of this project was to implement and evaluate an educational program to improve communication among LTC healthcare providers. Role: As co-PI, responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program.

Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response:
Funding Period: 9/01/05-8/31/08
Bioterrorism Training And Curriculum Development Program (T01HP06413-02-01)
The aim of this project was to develop and pilot test a model for a national disaster preparedness education training strategy for the long-term care workforce. Role: As PI, responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program.

Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response:
Funding Period: 9/01/06-8/31/07
PREPARE: Bioterrorism Preparedness Continuing Education Program
The aim of this project was to develop, implement and evaluate a disaster preparedness continuing education program for the long-term care workforce nationally. Role: As PI, responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program.

Selected Publications:

Edelman P., O’Brien C., Loftus E.M., & Engel R. (2010). Whole-person wellness in senior living: perspectives of 23 pioneering communities. Seniors Housing & Care Journal, 18(1), 53-65.

Lamb K. & O’Brien C. (2010). An overview: disaster preparedness for gerontological nurses. Geriatric Nursing, 31(3): 228-230.

O’Brien C., Selod S., & Escamilla V. (2007). PREPARE: A study of disaster planning in senior living. Seniors Housing & Care Journal, 14(1), 77-86.

Gunn R.A., O’Brien C., Lee, M. & Gilchick R. (2008). Gonorrhea screening among men who have sex with men: value of multiple anatomic site testing, San Diego, CA, 1997 – 2003, Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 35(10):845-848.

Lamb K., O’Brien C., & Fenza P. (2008). Elders at risk during disasters. Home Health Care Nurse, 26(1) 30-37.

O’Brien C., Selod S., & Lamb K.V. (2009). A national initiative to train long-term care staff for disaster response and recovery. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, Supplement.