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New Federal Grant Targets Urban Health Disparities

OU College of Nursing researchers marry community outreach with web-based tools

New Federal Grant Targets Urban Health Disparities

(Oklahoma City) - Researchers at the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing are targeting improved health and the elimination of urban health disparities in the state with the help of a new $300,000 federal grant.

The grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides funding for two years for the project, "A Community e-Health Promotion Program Addressing Oklahoma’s Urban Disparities."

"This grant is the culmination of two years of planning and development that involved our team as well as leaders from the faith community," said Kathleen Dwyer, Ph.D., R.N., principal investigator. Dwyer holds the  Henry Freede Endowed Chair in Nursing Science at the OU College of Nursing.

The proposed study  couples community outreach with an enhanced web-based health risk assessment that will be used by participants to manage their health. It is designed to give participants additional tools for improved health, including individualized health coaching, goal-setting skills, and immediate feedback on their health status.

The research team hopes to determine what impact the use of those tools has upon making lifestyle changes and overall health status.

"Many of us know what to do to improve our health outcomes, but Oklahomans continue to die at alarming rates from the complications of diseases.  We need to identify the ‘missing links’ between having knowledge, its application and real improvement in health,” said Norma Goff, M.S.N., with New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, who is serving as a community co-investigator on the study.

Health coaches will be recruited from the community and trained in both  motivational interviewing and goal-directed health planning.

Community churches will be utilized as a part of the outreach component of the research and health festivals will be held over the next 12 months to kick off the study.

"This research grant will help us to identify health needs and disparities in our community," said Rev. Dr. James A. Dorn, Jr., pastor of Mr. Triumph Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. "We then will be able to communicate and address these needs with prevention strategies and healthy life style changes as well as to direct health care resources to those who are in need."

Dwyer said the research utilizes an evidence-based, strategic community health improvement strategy  -  one that uses systematic health risk assessment and has been shown to have great potential to create healthier communities.

"This is the type of research that helps us translate evidence-based, clinical guidelines into useful roadmaps for other organizations to engage their communities in targeting preventable-illness and promoting better health," Dwyer said.

The research team also includes: Zsolt Nagykaldi, Ph.D., and Dr. Elizabeth Wickersham, both with the OU College of Medicine’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine; and fellow College of Nursing faculty members Voncella McCleary-Jones, Ph.D., R.N., Patsy Smith, Ph.D., R.N.,  and John Carlson M.S.In addition to Goff and Dorn, Mary Overall of People’s Church and Dr. Ruth Colbert Barnes of Great Mount Olive Baptist Church will serve as community co-investigators.

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