December 6, 2016
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Minority Focus In Research Programs Offer Ways To Improving Community Health


 

PITTSBURGH,  -- For years, traditional research has offered limited opportunities to improve the health and well-being of underserved populations because of its one-dimensional approach. Community-based participatory research (CBPR), however, is offering new hope by actively engaging the community in the research process through academic institutions and community organizations.

"CBPR seeks to influence change and eliminate disparities by combing knowledge with action," said Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation. "Through these programs, researchers listen to and solicit information from the population they are trying to help. Those who were formerly seen as patients or research subjects are now seen as invaluable partners who can provide insight to solutions."

Demonstrated in a recently published report from the Highmark Foundation, "Translating Community-Based Participatory Research into Practical Solutions," CBPR is producing positive results in improving the health of disadvantaged populations such as minorities, low-income individuals, people living in rural and urban areas and individuals with special health care needs.

Since 2002, the Highmark Foundation has awarded more than $756,450 in grants to support programs and interventions which began as CBPR projects. With continued support from additional funders, communities, corporations and universities, these programs continue to make a significant impact. All are offered at no cost to participants.

  • The Centers for Healthy Hearts and Souls (CHHS) received $246,000 for the Healthy Individual, Family and Community Program which offers smoking cessation groups, fitness programs, diabetes education, support groups and health education. Since receiving the grant in 2008, the program has expanded its presence in seven Allegheny County communities and increased program enrollment by more than 2,000.

The Highmark Foundation grant was strengthened by a grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation, which assisted CHHS in meeting its operating budget.

  • The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Center for Minority Health received $200,000 for theHealthy Black Family Project, designed to eliminate health disparities. The purpose of the project is to prevent and/or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes through health promotion and disease prevention efforts. As of December 2008, more than 7,000 individuals were enrolled in the project.

In addition to the Highmark Foundation, grant funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funders Initiative Partnership, the Pittsburgh Foundation, DSF Charitable Trust and the POISE Foundation helped launch the Healthy Black Families Project in 2005.

  • Washington County Health Partners received $310,450 for the WellLife and Health Ministry initiatives which leverage partnerships with other organizations, faith communities, businesses, human/social service organizations, philanthropic organizations and community residents to address health disparities.

WellLife participants who participated in 6- and 12-month follow-ups were found to have decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. The program demonstrated that it can be successful in reducing the incidence and prevalence of chronic disease such as hypertension and diabetes.

The Health Ministry concept has been well-received with one team doubling forming an independent unit within its church, increasing the number of health ministers and electing a slate of officers. If this model is successful, it could become a best practice for health ministries.  

To learn more about CBPR and the Highmark Foundations' efforts to strengthen community programming, read the complete report on the Highmark Foundation page at www.highmark.com.

About the Highmark Foundation

The Highmark Foundation, created in 2000 as an affiliate of Highmark Inc., is a charitable organization and a private foundation that supports initiatives and programs aimed at improving community health. The foundation's mission is to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who reside in the Pennsylvania communities served by Highmark Inc. The foundation awards two types of grants: Highmark Healthy High 5, which includes a focus on the health and well-being of children in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, self-esteem, bullying and grieving; and its traditional four areas of general health focus, which include chronic disease, communicable disease, family health and service delivery systems. Where possible, the foundation looks to support evidence-based programs that impact multiple counties and work collaboratively to leverage additional funding to achieve replicable models. For more information about the Highmark Foundation, visit www.highmark.com

 

SOURCE The Highmark Foundation

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