Director's Report Current Initiatives Planning Grants in Health by ByronHout


									Program in                                                                                     March–April 2009
Health Disparities Research                                                               A bimonthly publication

                                                                                                       Volume 2, Issue 3

     Director’s Report                      Current Initiatives
by Kola Okuyemi, M.D., M.P.H.          Planning Grants in Health Disparities Research Program
Welcome to the March issue of          On February 18th 2009, a request for proposals was announced and
The Connection. I am pleased to        released for PHDR’s 2009 Planning Grants in Health Disparities Research
announce that we have just begun       Program. Entering its third year, this grant funding program is designed to
the third cycle of our Planning        foster community and academic collaboration on research topics identified
Grants in Health Disparities           by community members to reduce local health disparities. To better
Research Program. We’re very           promote community and academic collaboration on research, all grants are
appreciative for the tremendous        required to have two investigators – one from a community organization,
amount of feedback that we             and one from the University of Minnesota.
have received about this grant
mechanism during its first two         This grant mechanism consists of two phases. In the first phase, letters of
years. This correspondence is          intent on research proposals are requested from community organizations.
important to us all, so please         These intent letters are one-page statements (300 words) identifying a local
keep it coming. I enjoy seeing         health disparity effecting Minnesotans, and an initial proposal on how the
the synergy that takes place when      researcher proposes to address the problem. Intent letters are accepted
researchers learn about and meet       from community organizations with established research relationships
like-minded individuals, and agree     with University faculty, and from organizations that would like assistance
to collaborate on research projects    in finding academic research partners with similar research interests.
that make a real difference in our     The deadline for intent letters is March 31, 2009. Once intent letters are
local communities.                     received, a matching process will be undertaken to introduce community
                                       organizations without University research partners to academic researchers
 I would like to take this             with similar interests.
opportunity to thank our funding
partners in this initiative: Masonic   In the second phase, successfully matched community organizations and
Cancer Center, University of           groups that have pre-existing research relationships will be invited to
Minnesota and Office for Business      submit a full application (due September 31, 2009). Research proposals
and Community Economic                 will be reviewed by a committee of University faculty and community
Development, in partnership with       members. Special thanks to funding partners on this initiative: Masonic
The Community Health Initiative        Cancer Center, University of Minnesota and Office for Business and
with Medica.                           Community Economic Development in partnership with The Community
            (continued on page 4)      Health Initiative with Medica. <<<

                                       For more information on the 2009 Planning Grants Program:
                                            Community Works
                                       The Harms of Secondhand Smoke to Infants and
                                       Young Children
Pregnancy Prevention                   According to the United States Surgeon General, millions of American
                                       children and adults are still exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) in their
Initiatives                            homes and work despite substantial progress in tobacco control. Exposure
                                       to SHS causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do
                                       not smoke. There is an insufficient amount of knowledge about parental
                                       SHS exposure among infants and young children within the African
                                       American population of Minneapolis.
                                       Program in Health Disparities Research member, Jennifer Warren, PhD,
                                       is working in partnership with local community members to address child
                                       exposure to SHS. In her study, funded by Clearway Minnesota, Mobilizing
                                       African American Parents to Address the Harms of Secondhand Smoke: A
On a beautiful evening in June,        Community-based Participatory Research Project, the main objective is to
teenagers gather in the basement       learn more about SHS exposure among lower income, inner-city, African
of the Kenyon Community                American young children 6 weeks to 5 years of age with the ultimate goal
Church in Brooklyn Center. They        of motivating parents to address harms due to SHS exposure. Says Dr.
could be outside, enjoying the         Warren, “This research is essential because African American children
first warm weather of summer.          are disproportionately impacted by illness and disease resulting from
Instead, they listen intently as a     exposure to secondhand smoke, especially within lower income urban
volunteer from the Center of Hope      communities.”
and Compassion reads a series of
statements like, “It is harder for a   This project is conducted in partnership with La Crèche Early Childhood
teenage boy to say no to sex than      Centers, a provider of services to children ages six weeks through twelve
it is for a teenage girl.” After a     years at centers within the areas of North, South, and Bryn Mawr in
statement is read, each teen moves     Minneapolis. As Co-Principle Investigators, La Crèche’s Executive
to one end of the room or the          Director Phyllis Sloan, M.A., and Dr. Warren are seeking to engage parents
other, depending on whether she        into the active role of researchers in an equal collaboration with academic
or he agrees or disagrees with the     researchers. Throughout this project, the Eliminating Secondhand Smoke
statement. Good-natured teasing        Parent Advisory Board has been active in the entire research process and
rings out, but the group quiets        will be integral to disseminating project findings.
quickly when the facilitator asks      In the inner-city of Minneapolis, 32% of African Americans smoke
them why they chose to stand           compared to 20% within the state of Minnesota. Minneapolis also has a
where they are. Their answers are      high population density of children under five living in poverty at 72%.
thoughtful and show the pressures      Dr. Warren states, “We will learn a
that young people today face when      great deal about how African
it comes to sex.                       American families are dealing with
Two months later, a group of           secondhand smoke exposure among
African American men at the            infants and young children. We
Church of New Life in Richfield        expect to come out of this study
talk soberly with staff from Q         with viable strategies with which
Health Connections. They say that      to develop an intervention based in
young people know a lot about          daycare settings, both centers and
sex, but do not have a good            family care.” <<<
              (continued on page 3)
     What’s Going On?
Mental Health Disparities

Matthea Little Smith is a tireless advocate for                                    Pregnancy, continued.
mental health in the African American community
and a member of the Program in Health Disparities                                  understanding of the
Research. Ms. Smith is African American                                            consequences and how to be
Outreach Director for the National Alliance on                                     responsible. They discuss the
Mental Illness (NAMI) of Minnesota. NAMI is                                        difficulty of talking with their
dedicated to improving the lives of adults and                                     own children about sex when
children with mental illness, including their                                      their parents often did not talk
families, through programs of education, research,                                 with them.
support and advocacy.
                                                                                   These activities and more are
                                                                                   part of a Hennepin County teen
Ms. Smith’s current work is to develop and maintain collaborations with
                                                                                   pregnancy prevention initiative in
community organizations and members, conduct public awareness and
                                                                                   partnership with local community
anti-stigma campaigns, and provide education and support in the African
                                                                                   organizations. Significant
American community through a generous grant from the Minneapolis
                                                                                   disparities in teen birth rates
Foundation. Additionally, she is organizing an African American speaker’s
                                                                                   by race and ethnicity exist in
bureau and has placed mental health disparities directly on her radar.
                                                                                   Hennepin County. In 2004, the
“While this is a very aggressive agenda, it’s critical to ending the mental
                                                                                   rate among African American
health disparities in the African American communities. One of my goals
                                                                                   teens was more than eight times
is to get a research project started in partnership with the University of
                                                                                   that of white teens, and rates for
Minnesota to address mental health disparities in the African American
                                                                                   Latino teens were a staggering 14
community.” Research is essential to opening up dialogue on mental health
                                                                                   times higher than that of whites.
in the community. She envisions, “The research project would enable
dialogue and movement on this topic that has been both a problem and off-          County officials are well aware
limits for discussion for too long.”                                               of the social and economic
                                                                                   costs of teen pregnancy. “Every
Ms. Smith is committed to reducing stigma and discrimination associated            metric we’ve seen shows that
with mental illness and it is the greatest challenge she sees in her work.         teen pregnancy—children
“It’s overwhelming. Not just in the general community, but people living           having children—is an endless
with mental illnesses feel that if one is identified as having a mental illness,   cycle of poverty, dependence
they will be labeled as being weak, or having a character flaw.” This              and unfulfilled potential,” said
challenge leads to the topic of mental health being ignored and often never        Hennepin County Commissioner
discussed at all – even within the family.                                         Mike Opat. “We have more
                                                                                   than 1,000 babies born to teen
While the tasks at hand can seem daunting, she has accumulated success             parents each year in Hennepin
stories based on community partnership. “Although it is usually a                  County alone. It’s a tricky issue
slow process, I find that developing relationships with individuals,               that no one wants to confront,
organizations, and faith-based communities helps establish the trust needed        but the costs of pregnancy to
to provide helpful information on mental illness.” She is very confident           both the teens and the public
that this strategy will help to reduce stigma attached to mental health and        are far too high for us to ignore.
open up the doors for treatment and recovery for so many. <<<                      We’ve made good progress, and
                                                                                   I’m confident that this work is
Learn more about NAMI Minnesota:                                 making a positive difference in
                                                                                   the lives of young people.” <<<
Program in Health Disparities Research
Medical School
University of Minnesota
717 Delaware St., SE, Suite 166
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Director’s Report continued                                                            denied American Indians legal rights,
                                               Fairly Healthy                          fair treaties, and equal opportunity.
Another thing I take pleasure            by Lannesse O. Baker, M.P.H., and Eduardo     Analogous to struggles over
                                         Medina, School of Public Health, Cardiology
in is the fact that our program          Division, Department of Medicine
                                                                                       natural resources, political rights,
membership continues to                                                                and economic development, the
increase. The Program in Health          In Minnesota, Native American                 issue of American Indian health
                                         communities experience significant            is characterized by a battle for
Disparities Research now has                                                           sovereignty and self-determination.
over 60 members ranging from             health disparities. American Indians
                                         shoulder a disproportionate burden            American Indian communities have
University faculty members, staff,       of incidence and mortality of cancer,         long had to contend with outsiders
and students, community members          cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and         trying to define problems and solutions
from multiple organizations, and         also sexually transmitted infections,         without participation from affected
                                         unintentional injury, homicide,               communities. We contend that this
governmental agencies. We are                                                          marginalization in itself helps drive
also seeing a steady increase in         and suicide. Any effort to address
                                         these disparities must acknowledge            health disparities within American
website visits and visitors from         Native American diversity, and                Indian communities. American
around the globe including Africa,       balance knowledge of history with             Indian communities are increasingly
Asia, and Europe. To learn more          an understanding of contemporary              advocating for true partnerships that
                                         American Indian experiences.                  build capacity for outsiders who wish
about the benefits of program                                                          to work with native communities.
membership and to apply online,          The relationship between the U.S.             Equally if not more important, is the
please visit our membership              government and American Indian                empowerment of American Indian
Web page at:                             communities can be divided into six           people to work on behalf of their own
http://www.healthdisparities.umn.        historical periods, each characterized        communities.
edu/ccr/hdresearch/membership/           by federal initiatives dealing with
                                         American Indians: ‘Discovery and              The fight for health of American
home.html                                Conquest’, ‘Removal and Relocation’,          Indian communities cannot be
                                         ‘Allotment and Assimilation’,                 separated from the struggle over
I hope you’ll enjoy reading this         ‘Reorganization’, ‘Termination’, and          autonomy and sovereignty. The
                                         ‘Self-Determination.’ Embedded                control of land, culture, education,
issue of The Connection and we                                                         environment, governance and economy
look forward to receiving any            within this history are federal
                                         policies that have denied American            has fundamental impacts on the
feedback or suggestions that             Indian communities control over               health status of American Indian
you may have. Feel free to visit         their land, children, civic and               communities. The incorporation of
us on the Web or contact us at:          cultural organization, and even their         local knowledge and experience
                                         own bodies. Examples of these                 will produce meaningful and                                                             relevant solutions for eradicating
                                         transgressions include the transfer
                                         of communal ownership of land to              health disparities. Co-learning,
                                         individuals, systematic forced removal        communication, and cooperation
                                         of Indian children from their families        serve to build stronger partnerships
                                         and communities, the use of boarding          for raising health status of American
                                         schools to destroy American Indian            Indian communities. Addressing
                                         cultural identity, the imposition of          these issues is essential to improving
                                         foreign governance structures, the            the health and quality of life for the
                                         sterilization of American Indian              American Indian community. <<<
                                         women, and structural inequity that

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