April 24, 2015

COPH and TRI Host Health Forum

C O P H Professor Kate Stewart, M D, M P H speaking at Health forum

Kate Stewart, M.D., MPH

The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health (COPH) and the Translational Research Institute (TRI), both at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), on April 9 hosted the “Our Community, Our Health” forum at the COPH. UAMS was one of two sites in Arkansas and 10 sites across the country participating in the event, the first in a series to occur quarterly as national conversations about health engaging researchers and community members.

The forum series is an initiative of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The TRI is one of 60 centers across the country participating in the NCATS’ Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program.

The event included a presentation on findings of a health survey being conducted in Arkansas and live-streamed presentations on type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure, which were identified as the leading health concerns of the survey participants across all sites nationally. Participants have the opportunity to text their questions to presenters. Each forum concludes with a live-streamed presentation on how to talk to a healthcare provider about the topic discussed.

The survey being conducted in Arkansas is part of an NCATS collaborative involving UAMS and six other institutions. The purpose is to determine attitudes in the community about research, community members’ past experiences with research studies, and what would motivate them to take part in a research study. The survey targeted minority and marginalized populations, because these groups typically are not included in research.

The TRI launched the health survey in Arkansas with the help of the Office of Community-based Public Health (OCBPH) and COPH student volunteers. Survey sites include three ZIP code areas in Central Arkansas, as well as areas in northwest Arkansas, where the focus has been on the Hispanic and Marshallese populations. The goal is to provide information that will improve efforts to engage populations typically underrepresented in health research – and which generally experience poorer health than the white populations.

If minority populations are not included in research, “it is harder to address health priorities,” said Kate Stewart, M.D., MPH, COPH Professor of Health Policy and Management and OCBPH Director, who facilitated the local portion of the forum. Dr. Stewart is the Director of Community Engagement for the TRI.

Nationally, only 2 percent of minorities have ever taken part in health research, and dissemination of research findings into medical and public health practice can take as long as 17 years, Dr. Stewart said.

As far, 700 completed surveys have been collected in central Arkansas. Preliminary findings show that the top health concerns of respondents are high blood pressure and diabetes. The survey also found that a high percentage of minority respondents would be willing to take part in research.

“Not a lot of people surveyed have gotten a chance to participate in research, but would be willing even if they were not [compensated],” said COPH student Danielle White, who has served as a volunteer data collector.