Facilitating the Linking of Environmental and Health Data to Advance Patient-centered Outcomes Research
Climate change is affecting not only our environment but also our health. For example, increased droughts, drier soils, and record high temperatures are all environmental changes that have created more severe, frequent, and intense wildfire seasons, increasing the risk of adverse health outcomes ranging from eye or throat irritation to asthma episodes, heart failure, and even premature death. Linking health, environmental, and exposure data is crucial to better understand both the environmental health problems we are facing today and those we may face in the future, so we can devise solutions and prevention strategies that will protect vulnerable communities.
The CHORDS project therefore aims to build and strengthen data infrastructure for patient-centered outcomes research on climate change and health. We will achieve this goal by providing accessible, timely, harmonized, interoperable, and linkable data on environmental factors, exposures, and health outcomes. We will also provide analytical and educational resources that will allow not only researchers, but also health practitioners, public health officials, and communities to assess the health effects associated with climate-related events, create and evaluate evidence-based interventions to protect communities, and anticipate and respond to potential adverse health outcomes resulting from these events.
What is Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR)?
Patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) aims to generate evidence about the outcomes and effectiveness of treatments, services, and other health care interventions to support informed decisions by patients, caregivers, clinicians, and policymakers. The new environmental health insights resulting from the CHORDS project will facilitate better-informed medical diagnoses, treatment recommendations, and even exposure prevention strategies that will benefit people living in affected communities. This work was funded by the Office of the Secretary Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (OS-PCORTF). The OS-PCORTF funding was made available to the NIEHS by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) through an Intra-Departmental Delegation of Authority (IDDA) (OS-ASPE-PCORTF-NIHNIEHS-2023-005).
What Will Be the Outcomes of the CHORDS Project?
- A web-based catalog of resources on climate and health including data, tools and educational resources, engagement opportunities, and more.
- Standardized, linked datasets integrating climate, environmental exposures, and health outcomes. This data will follow FAIR+ principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable, and Computable).
- A toolkit with resources and manuals to facilitate data linking and analysis by different kinds of users (beginner, intermediate, advanced).
- An evaluation use case for wildfires and related health effects, to demonstrate the capabilities of the data catalog and its related resources.
- Engagement opportunities to address end-user needs both on the website (user forum, FAQs, Contact Us section) and at other events (such as scientific conferences, Share Your Data events, and webinars).
Who Can Benefit From This Project?
- Researchers: our data catalog and analysis tools will further academic research across various fields including (but not limited to) epidemiology, genomics, toxicology, public health, and geophysics.
- Health Practitioners: The possibility to incorporate data from state agencies and local hospital systems into our data catalog will provide physicians and public health officials with valuable environmental health information about their communities, facilitating the tailoring of diagnoses, treatment options, and prevention strategies to the communities’ individual exposures and environmental vulnerabilities.
- Communities: In addition to the benefits of community-tailored medical and prevention responses mentioned above, the learning resources and examples in our platform will also benefit community organizers interested in learning how to analyze their own community's data to motivate grassroots efforts.
- Educators and Students: the web platform will provide useful examples and learning materials on analyzing different kinds of environmental and health data for students at the undergraduate or above levels and educators in high school or above levels.