UC Merced researchers to study kids, Valley fever

March 31, 2014

— Erin Gaab, a postdoctoral scholar at UC Merced’s Health Sciences Research Institute, is taking the initiative in looking closer at the psycho-social issues faced by families with children who have been diagnosed with valley fever.

With the help of 13 undergraduate research assistants, Gaab is leading the pediatric coccidioidomycosis research project, which aims to better understand the quality of life and psychological functioning of valley fever patients in California.

Gaab said the data will be collected through structured interviews conducted mainly in English and Spanish. Her goal is to interview between 50 and 150 families. Children ages 8 to 18 and their caregivers will be asked about their well-being, their health care experience, their perceptions of Valley fever and their coping mechanisms.

Gaab, whose background is in pediatric palliative care, became interested in valley fever when doctors from Children’s Hospital of Central California visited UC Merced to discuss a possible collaboration between doctors and researchers to gather more information about the epidemic.

“In pediatric palliative care, we deal with children who have conditions like cancer and other end-of-life conditions,” said Gaab. “That’s why I became interested in valley fever, because of its similarities to chronic diseases.”

Read the full story in the Merced Sun-Star.