“My work as a practitioner continues to motivate and inform my research and teaching. My interests align with national efforts regarding racial, ethnic and gender disparities around health care access and use in later life. I’m dedicated to helping students understand how programs differentially impact the aging population and studying how we can better meet the needs of these vulnerable populations and increase access to positively impact health outcomes.”
Aging; racial, ethnic and racial disparities in later life; health access; health disparities; community-based interventions; implementation science; research and program evaluation; macro practice; social welfare policy; technology and virtual reality
Louanne Bakk is the director of the School of Social Work's Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program and coordinator of the Excellence in Aging Micro-Credential program. Her pedagogical focus is on implementation science, research and program evaluation, online learning, using advanced technologies, macro practice and aging public policy.
Bakk's research interests in aging — with an emphasis on policy initiatives, disparities in later life, community-based programs and services, and technology with older adults — are influenced by her practice experience in the Southfield, Michigan Area Agency on Aging 1-B, where she observed the impact of public policy initiatives designed to assist older individuals.
Bakk's research and community service focus on racial, ethnic and gender disparities in cost-related medication nonadherence under Medicare Part D and factors impacting older adults' ability to maintain adherence.
Her recent project with the Erie County Department of Senior Services examined older adults' knowledge of Medicare benefits — in particular, the Medicare Savings Program and Medicare Part D low-income subsidy (LIS). Using participatory research, she measured the effectiveness of outreach on diverse segments' awareness and access to the benefits.
Bakk is the author or co-author of several articles that expanded on her findings. She examined whether awareness of the LIS varies by race and ethnicity among beneficiaries age 65 and older, and the impact of factors associated with health beneficiaries' knowledge and need for assistance on LIS awareness. This work was based on the premise that, despite having Medicare to meet health care needs, the cost-sharing requirements are barriers to receiving adequate care, particularly among more vulnerable older adult populations.
Bakk is the recipient of multiple additional grants and honors. She was co-investigator for "Coalesce and Connect: Building a National Network of Dementia Care Voices," a project funded by a Retirement Research Foundation grant.