IHA's Research Program

IHA's Research Program

The Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) is committed to conducting and funding research to advance the field of health literacy.

Download IHA's Grant RFP Here 

Internally, IHA seeks strategic partnerships with academic institutions, healthcare organizations, and research groups to shepherd collaborative research to tackle some of the challenging questions in the field.

Externally, IHA, in 2021, launched a funding opportunity for small research grants to advance the field. IHA will fund studies aimed at generating evidence that directly links health literacy best practices with desirable outcomes, such as the following:

  • Cost savings
  • Improved provider-patient communication and shared decision-making
  • Better quality and safety in health care
  • Reduction in healthcare disparities  

IHA’s small research program will contribute to real-world evidence by funding new information discovery on the outcome of fully clarified health literacy interventions. Small studies can often be the vehicle for “teasing out” the component of an intervention that results in the desirable outcome.

Exciting health literacy initiatives are being implemented in communities and healthcare systems everywhere but may not be rigorously studied without special funding. IHA’s small research grants may be the funding needed for a healthcare system to strictly study processes and services reengineered using health literacy best practices.

Our goals with these small research grants include the following:

  • Support research with a potential to “move the needle” in the field
  • Generate findings that are actionable in the real world
  • Provide seed funding for pilot studies to secure large research grants to advance the field of health literacy.

Awarded in 2021




Iris Feinberg, PhD (Co-PI), Dawn Aycock, PhD (Co-PI), Joseph Magliano, PhD, and Elizabeth Tighe, PhD

(Georgia State University)

Tailoring Stroke Education Materials to Increase the Accuracy of Perceived Stroke Risk Among African American Adults

African American or Black, between the ages of 20 and 34 years, and residing in the Atlanta metropolitan area

Allyce Haney Smith, MSW (Co-PI), Jerry Lee, MD (Co-PI), Victoria Laurenzi-Jump, LMSW, Laurie Amburn, RN, CCN, Holly Jenkins Riley, LMSW

(Greenfield Health Systems)

Increasing Health Literacy Among Individuals Initiating Outpatient Dialysis

New start dialysis patients of 15 dialysis centers in the Detroit metropolitan area


This new research program is led by Marian Ryan, PhD, IHA’s Chief Policy and Research Officer.

Prior to her position at IHA, Dr. Ryan had a healthcare and public health career spanning 30 years that included direct clinical care, staff training, patient education and health literacy, health program development and evaluation, and system-wide quality improvement initiatives. She held clinical and administrative positions with both payer and provider sectors serving underserved populations.  Mid-career she accepted an AHRQ fellowship to earn her PhD in Social Policy (with a concentration in health policy and health services research) at Brandeis University. Dr. Ryan is most passionate about translational research with the goals of improving the accessibility and effectiveness of healthcare services and reducing health disparities. She promotes embedding health literacy practices as a pathway to achieving health equity, high quality, and whole-person care.

Strong Response to IHA’s First RFP for Small Research Grant Funding

IHA had an excellent response to its RFP, announced December 13, 2021, with submissions from across the country. We are extremely grateful to our esteemed review panel that scored all proposals with respect to the following criteria:

  • Potential to fill an unmet research need in advancing health literacy
  • Feasibility and potential of the project for tangible results within 12 to 24 months
  • Strength of the research plan
  • Expertise of the Principal Investigator and key team members
  • Quality and extent of patient and/or participant engagement or the involvement of relevant stakeholders
  • Potential to scale and foster innovation in and validity of health literacy programs and health literacy embeddedness in health care system encounters
  • Overall impact on the field of health literacy

The quality of all the proposals was very good and the top tier scores were very close. The IHA Executive Team reviewed the scores and, based upon comments from the reviewers and after thoughtful discussion, selected the two studies from the top-scoring proposals to fund.