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2020 AIMHI EMS Integration Award | Dr. Brad Cannell

17 Aug 2020 3:01 PM | AIMHI Admin (Administrator)

2020 Leadership In Integrated Healthcare Award, Research

Dr. Brad Cannell has led an effort with two universities to test methods to make it easier and more reliable for EMTs to identify potential victims of elder abuse and neglect.  Brad has been the principle investigator for two studies for the detection of elder abuse through emergency care technicians (DETECT) studies.  The first project was funded by a grant awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and was conducted through the University of North Texas Health Science Center.     

Results from the study have been published in JAMA - https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2765655     

A current study is being conducted through Dr. Cannell’s affiliation with the University of Texas and is funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).     

The mistreatment of the elderly is a serious and widespread public health problem with far-reaching implications, and often EMS may be the only ‘witness’ to the victimization.  Unfortunately, many EMTs are unaware of the subtle ways to detect elder abuse.  Dr. Cannell’s studies are helping determine the most effective ways EMTs can use tools and worksheets embedded into electronic patient care reports (ePCRs) to screen patients for potential elder abuse.   

MedStar has participated in both of these studies, and has implemented training and ePCR worksheets to support these studies.  In the most recent study, MedStar community paramedics conduct face-to-face interviews with patients screened as being at high risk for potential elder abuse to test the worksheets for accuracy in reporting.

The mean (SD) age of the 11 178 older adults included in this study was 76 (8) years (range, 65-105 years); there was no reported data on patient sex. A total of 18 080 reports of elder mistreatment were recorded. Medics within the study region reported more cases of elder mistreatment during the implementation of the screening tool (relative risk [RR], 4.14; 95% CI, 3.25-5.27). After adjusting for changes in the number of elder mistreatment reports in the comparison groups (ie, underlying changes in reporting trends), the number of reports to APS increased (RR, 3.03; 95% CI, 2.06-4.46). The occurrence of elder mistreatment was validated in 83% (95% CI, 75%-91%) of the reports investigated by APS during the periods when medics did not have access to the screening tool compared with 82% (95% CI, 77%-87%) during the periods when medics had access to the screening tool, indicating that there were no differences in the proportion of reports that resulted in a validated Adult Protective Services (APS) investigation.


Dr. Cannell received his PhD in Epidemiology, and Graduate Certificate in Gerontology, in 2013 from the University of Florida. He received his MPH with a concentration in Epidemiology from the University of Louisville in 2009, and his BA in Political Science and Marketing from the University of North Texas in 2005. During his doctoral studies, he was a Graduate Research Assistant for the Florida Office on Disability and Health, an affiliated scholar with the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, and a student-inducted member of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health. In 2016, Dr. Cannell received a Graduate Certificate in Predictive Analytics from the University of Maryland University College, and a Certificate in Big Data and Social Analytics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   

Dr. Cannell’s research is broadly focused on healthy aging and health-related quality of life. Specifically, he has published research focusing on preservation of physical and cognitive function, living/aging with disability, and understanding/preventing elder abuse. Additionally, he has a strong background and training in epidemiologic methods, and predictive analytics. He has been principal or co-investigator on multiple trials and observational studies in community and healthcare settings. He is currently the principal investigator on the Detection of Elder abuse Through Emergency Care Technicians (DETECT) project.

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