Ph.D. student and fellowship recipient Alminda D’Agostino hopes to learn how healthcare management programs for Hispanics with congestive heart failure can improve through direct interviews.

Alminda D'AgostinoMarch 2012—Alminda D’Agostino, a Ph.D. in Public Health student at Walden University and a health educator in New Jersey, received the 2011 Fellowship in Research and Applications for Social Change, a $10,000 grant through the Presidential Fellowship Program, to pursue her study Factors That Affect Self-Management of Congestive Heart Failure Among Hispanic Medicaid Patients.

As an educator who interacts on a daily basis with Medicaid patients and the people who help them, D’Agostino has found that the same question comes up repeatedly: Why do certain congestive heart failure patients continue to use emergency rooms for care—despite patient-education efforts?

Through face-to-face interviews, she hopes to learn what patients say about their experiences with the disease and the barriers they encounter. Her ultimate goals are to learn how Hispanic Medicaid patients describe congestive heart failure, how they feel about the management program they are enrolled in and what personal and  environmental factors present obstacles in the management of their disease.

Several of D’Agostino’s stakeholders have already expressed an interest in her findings, and she realizes the results of her research could have a long-term impact. “This study will plant a seed toward more effective patient care and patient self-management,” D’Agostino says. “I want to help my stakeholders create effective management programs that address the needs of patients who are Hispanic.”

Ultimately, her goal is to expand on her research by recruiting patients from other ethnic groups so that she can identify the similarities and differences in attitudes, opinions and feelings about their treatment.

“From the very beginning, I knew Walden University was the right choice for me,” D’Agostino says. “My dissertation committee’s feedback, input and guidance helped me concentrate on my research questions, the purpose of the study, its significance and the methodology. They saw potential in me and knew that my research will make a contribution to social change.”

About the Fellowship

The Fellowship in Research and Applications for Social Change was established to enable members of the Walden community to make a significant and meaningful change in academic and social communities, both locally and globally.

Read more about the Fellowship in Research and Applications for Social Change and past recipients.