Pilot Projects


Geospatial Area and Information Analyzer (GAIA), a Visualization Tool for Understanding Emergency Preparedness through Geospatial Analysis

Principal Investigator: Shawn T. Brown, PhD

Status: New, In Progress

GAIA is the most recent pilot study to be awarded by PHASYS with the specific aim:

  • Create an interactive web-based visualization of the PHASYS Project Arm 1 modified NACCHO database

Study Abstract:
As one of the missions of the PHASYS project is to provide a deeper understanding and quantification of emergency preparedness capability, having the ability to map and model such capability geospatially is critical. As part of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS), the Geospatial Area and Information Analyzer (GAIA) is being developed to provide the ability to create information based visualization for public health. As part of PHASYS Arm 1, graduate student Luis Duran has augmented the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) 2008 Survey of Local Health Departments and done preliminary mapping of the data, creating the PHASYS Arm 1 Local Health Departments Preparedness dataset. In the GAIA pilot study, an interactive, Web-based application of Duran’s dataset becomes a way to provide a dynamic information-based presentation for public health officials to explore this resource. The application will give public health officials, researchers, and the general public the capability to explore this important dataset visually and geographically, providing an intuitive way to interact with the information.

Key Personnel:

Shawn T. Brown, PhD
Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
Research Fellow, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center


H1N1 Influenza: Attitudes towards Vaccines and Emergency Use Authorization Drugs—A National Survey

Principal Investigator: Sandra Crouse Quinn, PhD
Status: Completed

In this highly successful pilot project, a national survey was developed and conducted on public attitudes toward H1N1. The purpose of the survey was to strengthen our understanding of how the public may perceive risk in this pandemic and what factors would affect their willingness to accept and comply with treatment and other recommendations. Variables include vaccine acceptance and uptake; EUA acceptance; disparities in H1N1 exposure, susceptibility and treatment; trust in government and spokespersons; perceived susceptibility, severity, and self-efficacy; participation in preventive behaviors; and use of information sources including social media. The survey sample was randomly drawn from the Knowledge Networks online research panel, which is representative of the U.S. population.

The findings of the pilot study had such a potential implication for public health that upon completion, it was extended with supplemental funding.

The specific aims of the project are:

  • Explore the attitudes toward the use of drugs and vaccines in a pandemic emergency, including willingness to take new drugs or vaccines under an Emergency Use Authorization
  • Examine empirically disparities in exposure, susceptibility, and access to treatment that may place minority or other populations who already experience health disparities at higher risk during a pandemic
  • Explore attitudes toward and psychosocial factors associated with support for government actions to mitigate the pandemic
  • Examine psychological factors, trust in governmental and public health officials, and use of social media

H1N1 Influenza Publication
H1N1 Influenza Presentation

Key Personnel:

Sandra Crouse Quinn, PhD
Principal Investigator
Associate Dean for Public Health Initiatives
Senior Associate Director, Center for Health Equity
Professor, Department of Family Science
University of Maryland School of Public Health

Vicki S. Freimuth
Director, Center for Health and Risk Communication
Professor, Department of Speech Communication and Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Georgia

Kevin H. Kim, PhD
Data Analyst
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology in Education
University of Pittsburgh

Supriya Kumar, PhD
Research Scholar
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health


Modeling Behavior Change in the H1N1 Pandemic

Principal Investigator: Steven M. Albert, PhD
Status: Completed

This research examined how individuals adopt precautionary health behaviors in the face of the H1N1 pandemic. In particular, the goal was to measure the relevance of health behavior theory elements (such as perceived susceptibility or behavioral norms for adoption of protective behaviors, such as avoiding crowded places or accepting vaccination). These parameters will have potential use in agent-based computational models that have already been developed to examine the interaction of behavioral and disease dynamics.

The specific aims of the project were:

  • Examine how key elements of health behavior theories (such as perceived susceptibility or the relevance of behavioral norms) change with the changing incidence of H1N1 over the course of a flu season using repeated monthly behavioral surveys
  • Use data collected in this survey effort to establish parameters needed for our current agent-based models of linked behavioral and disease dynamics

Modeling Behavior Change in the H1N1 Pandemic Publication

Key Personnel:

Steven M. Albert, PhD
Principal Investigator
Professor and Chair, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health