Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI) (2016-2017)


Life can change in an instant. Without notice, an acute illness or injury can result in life-altering disability with a rippling effect that extends far beyond the individual and years into the future. The World Health Organization estimated in 2011 that 15 percent of the world’s population has some form of disability. Of the one billion people living with disability, more are women, and between 110 and 190 million have severe functional impairment. The most vulnerable and underserved population is those who suffer acutely from loss of functionality and drastic change in social roles as they transition home from the hospital. Yet this experience is not well understood; most measures quantify death, readmissions and burden without considering quality of life and different influences in the surrounding system.

Project Description

This project will establish a Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI) to examine disability from multiple perspectives and cultures. The Alliance will support the development of innovative interdisciplinary approaches to promote functional independence, community reintegration and an improved quality of life after an acute injury or illness. We aim to determine the system of services and support needed for adults newly living with disability to achieve their greatest quality of life.

Team members will develop a framework that will guide the design and data collection efforts of the Alliance. It will then be prepared as the first interdisciplinary internationally advised methods paper from the Alliance. Summer pilot studies will collect data at different levels of the framework, representing a low, middle and high income country (Tanzania, Argentina, United States, respectively). Individual studies will be published. In a Fall 2016 seminar course on life with disability around the globe, students at all levels will be paired with our global partners in ten countries (China, Singapore, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Tanzania, Uganda, U.S.). These partnerships will support students’ exploration of the trajectory of health and the system that supports individuals with disability after an acute injury or illness. Using a structured data collection protocol, participants will collectively produce a multi-country comparison.

Global fieldwork is possible for interested students and will involve conducting patient and family observations. In Spring 2017 a website of our preliminary findings will be developed and a forum will be held, both for dissemination locally and to get advisor and broader stakeholder input to plan for the following year.

Anticipated Outcomes

Published framework for global alliance on disability research; multi-country comparison study; website presenting preliminary findings and featuring partner programs; Global Alliance 2017 forum

Related Course

Bass Connections Fall 2016 seminar course: Living with Disability around the Globe


Fall 2016 – Spring 2017

Team Outcomes to Date

Presentation in the Innovation Section of the Annual Research Meeting of AcademyHealth in Boston, June 26, 2016

Project website


Anna Martin, MPP Student

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Faculty/Staff Team Members

Janet Prvu Bettger, School of Medicine - Orthopaedic Surgery*
Harvey Jay Cohen, Center for Study of Aging & Human Development
Deborah Gold, School of Medicine - Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Center for Study of Aging & Human Development
Adam Goode, School of Medicine - Physical Therapy
Bradi Granger, School of Nursing and Duke Heart Center
Michel Landry, School of Medicine - Physical Therapy
Gary Maslow, School of Medicine - Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Truls Ostbye, School of Medicine - Community & Family Medicine
Laura Richman, Trinity - Psychology & Neuroscience
Emily Smith, School of Medicine - Division of Global Neurosurgery and Neuroscience*
Catherine Staton, School of Medicine - Surgery*
Kearsley Stewart, Duke Global Health Institute
Donald Taylor, Sanford School of Public Policy
Elizabeth Turner, School of Medicine - Biostatistics & Bioinformatics
Joao Vissoci, School of Medicine - Department of Emergency Medicine, DGNN
Heather Whitson, School of Medicine - Medicine - Geriatrics
Gavin Yamey, Duke Global Health Institute

Graduate Team Members

Sarah Jean Barton, Divinity - Doctor of Theology
Kira Battle, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Deena El-Gabri, Master of Science in Global Health
Christopher Fitzgibbon, Pratt - Mechanical Engineering and Material Scienc
Anne Gross, Physical Therapy
Gabrielle Harris, PhD Program in Nursing
Anna Martin, Sanford School - Master of Public Policy
Shem Opolot, Master of Science in Global Health
Michelle Roberts, Master of Science in Global Health
Jasmine Seider, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Alissa Stavig, MD
Brittney Sullivan, School of Nursing - PhD in Nursing

Undergraduate Team Members

Mathama Malakha Bility, Public Policy Studies (AB)
Nelia Ekeji, Biology (AB), English (AB2)
Sophie Haet, Public Policy Studies (AB)
Yuhkai Lin, Chemistry (BS)
Chelsea Liu, Computer Science (AB)
Elish Mahajan, Biology (BS)
Maaz Mulla, Biology (BS)
Rachel Shapiro
Jacqueline Xu, Global Health (AB), Public Policy Studies (AB2)

* denotes team leader