ISE Prof. Karmel S. Shehadeh is providing expertise in healthcare operations research

A group of Lehigh researchers will examine the physical and mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Lehigh Valley community. The project received support from a Lehigh University Fast Track Summer 2020 Research Grant. The results of the study are expected to provide novel insights into the mechanisms by which potential predictors of health are related to the short-term positive and adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Lehigh Valley community as well as the longer-term impacts at the state and national levels.

The community study will focus on vulnerable populations (such as racial/ethnic minorities, the elderly, pregnant women, those with chronic physical and mental health conditions, those raising children with special needs, low-income families and essential service workers who support these vulnerable groups). The predictors of health include demographic characteristics, individual and family health status prior to the pandemic, pandemic-induced economic, social stressors and life events, and ability to follow social distancing guidelines.

To gather data for the community study, the research team will administer an online survey of participants recruited through numerous regional service organizations. Semi-structured interviews with select participants via Zoom will follow.

Among the topics the team will explore are the nature, frequency, and methods of communication among individuals, peer groups, and community organizations in the Lehigh Valley. Researchers will also investigate the impact of such communication on perceptions of and behaviors related to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will examine the format and effectiveness of communication between health care providers and those in need of medical care as well.

The community study team led by Professor Fathima Wakeel of Lehigh’s new College of Health includes ISE Assistant Professor Karmel S. Shehadeh, along with faculty experts from Lehigh’s 5 colleges. Professor Shehadeh provides her experience in the application of Operations Research and Analytics in Healthcare Delivery. She aims to use advanced analytical methods (e.g., simulation, optimization, decision analysis) to analyze the data and build models that help understand the pandemic's physical and mental health impacts and design data-driven policies/strategies to mitigate and anticipate the adverse outcomes of this and future pandemics. 

More information can be obtained in here.