The death of a baby before his or her first birthday, termed “infant mortality,” is considered to be one of the most important indicators of the health and well-being of a population. In 2010 the U.S. infant mortality rate (IMR) was 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, ranked 29th among wealthy countries. Indiana statistics are even worse. Indiana ranks 39th in the U.S. with a rate of 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Marion County (Co.) has an IMR of 9.53 and Delaware Co. a rate of 8.6. Both rank near or above the state average for risk factors shown to contribute to infant mortality. In addition, Marion Co. has a striking history of disparity between black and white infant mortality, with black IMR at 12.7 in 2012, and white IMR at 5.5 in 2012.

The project objective of the is to reduce infant mortality in Marion and Delaware Counties by partnering with community organizations to co-develop strategies that support maternal and infant health. To achieve this goal, the research team will build on existing partnerships with state, healthcare, and community organizations to augment research and evaluation capacities, documentation, and behavioral change and communication skills to enhance the effective work already underway.

Through interactions with organizations in both Marion and Delaware Counties,the research team has developed a shared hypothesis that a community-academic collaboration, in close partnership with infant mortality reduction Community Action Team members (CATs), will intensify health supports to women of child-bearing age, their families and their infants, measurably reducing infant mortality for impoverished populations in these two distinctly different IUH service areas – one urban serving predominately African-American patients; one rural serving predominately Caucasian patients.

Working in partnership, IU investigators and relevant community organizations have co-created this proposal’s aims, identified high-priority health indicators based on best available local data, designed a process for locally-customized short message service (SMS) messaging and coaching strategies, and envisioned an ongoing quality improvement process. The project is conceived as a path finding activity to establish best practices tailored to Indiana populations that if, proven successful, may be used as a model for reducing infant mortality statewide as well as addressing other high priority health challenges identified in the IU Health Community Health Needs Assessment Report.


IHN – A partnership and a $100,000 award has been granted to the WeCare Initiatve to help identified food insecure women within Raphael Clinic who are enrolled in our program opportunities to access food and eat healthier.

For the WeCare Indiana project we have currently met the following milestones:

  • All training materials for the coaches have been created, edited, carefully reviewed and disseminated to both sites and to our current coaches.
  • Two coaches, one at each site, have been hired and trained to consent and coach women who enroll in the WeCare program
  • More than 16,000 SMS messages have sent to mothers enrolled in the program.
  • Coaches have begun enrollment and coaching sessions at each site.

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Center for Health Services Research