“Insights” on Simulation Modeling and Systems Science, New Research Funding Opportunity

By Xinzhi Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.
Program Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Division of Scientific Programs

There are many contributing factors to health, such as race, ethnicity, sex, sexual identity, age, disability, socioeconomic status, and geographic location. To help close health gaps, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) spearheads scientific research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

NIMHD is leading a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA): Simulation Modeling and Systems Science (SMSS) to Address Health Disparities. To learn more about SMSS and this new funding opportunity, NIMHD Program Officer Dr. Xinzhi Zhang addresses a few questions for the Insights blog. Continue reading ““Insights” on Simulation Modeling and Systems Science, New Research Funding Opportunity”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

NIMHD Loan Repayment Programs

By Dorothy M. Castille, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Division of Scientific Programs

Photo of Dr. Dorothy Castille, Health Scientist Administrator, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Division of Scientific Programs

Dr. Dorothy M. Castille

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) invites qualified health professionals who contractually agree to engage in NIH mission–relevant research to apply for the 2018 extramural NIMHD Loan Repayment Programs (LRP) for an average of at least 20 hours per week for at least two years. Descriptions of the NIMHD LRP follow:

Continue reading “NIMHD Loan Repayment Programs”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Breastfeeding Disparities in African American Women

By Regina Smith James, M.D.
Director, Clinical and Health Services Research
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Photo of Dr. Regina Smith James

Dr. Regina Smith James

Some say the best things in life are free…but are they really? Well, when it comes to providing our babies with the best nutrition ever, breastfeeding is not only economical, but it has positive health effects for both baby and mom. Did you know that breast milk is uniquely suited to your baby’s nutritional needs, with immunologic and anti-inflammatory properties? Yes, it’s true! And the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, with gradual introduction of solid foods after 6 months while continuing to breastfeed up to 1 year.

What are some of the health benefits of breastfeeding? Breast milk not only offers a nutritionally balanced meal, but some studies suggest that breastfeeding may even reduce the risk for certain allergic diseases, asthma, and obesity in your baby, as well as type 2 diabetes in moms. Also, breastfeeding creates a close bond between mother and child. And from a financial standpoint, breastfeeding is economical. The United States Breastfeeding Committee noted that families who followed optimal breastfeeding practices could save approximately $1,500 that would have gone toward infant formula in the first year alone. Imagine what you could do with those extra dollars!

Continue reading “Breastfeeding Disparities in African American Women”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Minorities and Mental Health: Moving Beyond Stigma

By Courtney Ferrell Aklin, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

By Marcia M. Gómez, M.D.
Health Science Policy Analyst, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Dr. Courtney Ferrell Aklin

   Dr. Courtney Ferrell Aklin

Demographic trends in the United States have continued to change rapidly. Projections indicate that within the next 30 years, the majority of the United States will be non-White.1 Among the racial and ethnic groups that will make up the majority, there is significant heterogeneity, making healthcare delivery even more challenging.

Mental illness is one of the most prevalent health problems in the United States and one of the most taxing on the healthcare system. In addition, mental illness carries the highest disease burden among all diseases, with devastating effects on daily functioning; personal, social, and occupational impairment; and premature death if left untreated.2 One in 10 children and one in five adults are affected by mental illness.3

Continue reading “Minorities and Mental Health: Moving Beyond Stigma”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Improving the Health Status of African American Males

By Wayne T. Harris, Ph.D.
Project Director and Contact Principal Investigator
Hampton University Minority Men’s Health Initiative

Dr. Wayne T. Harris

Dr. Wayne T. Harris

It gives me great pleasure to contribute to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) blog, NIMHD Insights. While the health status of all groups in the United States has improved over the past century, significant gaps remain between the health status of African Americans and other minority groups, and that of the general population. For example, in 1950,1 the life expectancy of an African American male at birth was 59, while that of a Caucasian male was 68. In 2014,1 the life expectancy at birth for an African American male increased to 72.0 while that for a Caucasian male increased to 76.5. Similar gaps exist in the health status and health outcomes of minority populations using a variety of measures, and clearly more work needs to be done.

The Hampton University Minority Men’s Health Initiative (MMHI) exists to contribute to the achievement of one of the overarching goals of Healthy People 2020: “to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups.” Research has consistently shown that disease management and prevention efforts related to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and asthma lead to long-term improvement in outcomes.2 But these research findings have not been translated into sustainable, community-based programs. Furthermore, violence prevention efforts are clearly needed to reduce the significant loss of life due to homicide – the eighth leading cause of death among African Americans in 2014, and the fifth leading cause of death among African American males in 2014.1 MMHI is a program based on collaboration between selected regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to leverage resources in order to increase research into the causes and solutions for health disparities, increase community outreach and education, and promote effective prevention and/or treatment activities. As part of the National Institutes of Health and NIMHD’s efforts to advance engaged and transdisciplinary research, MMHI serves as a Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center (TCC) for research on minority men’s health.

Continue reading “Improving the Health Status of African American Males”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Contradicting the Myth of the Model Minority Through a Population Health Equity Approach

By Chau Trinh-Shevrin, DrPH
Principal Investigator, NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health
Associate Professor, Departments of Population Health and Medicine
Vice Chair for Research, Department of Population Health
Director, Section for Health Equity
NYU School of Medicine

Diabetes management class participants perform group exercises.

Diabetes management class participants perform group exercises.

Asian Americans do not need an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Research suggests that doctors are less likely to follow evidence-based guidelines and meet standards of care with their Asian American patients compared with other racial groups in preventing and managing chronic conditions.1,2 Asian Americans, however, face just as many health challenges, including an increasing rate of diabetes and certain cancers.

This neglect seems to be linked to the “model minority” stereotype of Asian Americans, promoted in American culture and media, which portrays them as uniformly hardworking, affluent, and healthy. Yet, Asian Americans are not all alike: There are substantial differences in language, migration, and social experiences across Asian subgroups whose ancestral heritages hail from East, South, and Southeast Asia, and health concerns and risks vary across and within these communities.3

Continue reading “Contradicting the Myth of the Model Minority Through a Population Health Equity Approach”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Stroke Ready: Partnering to Increase Acute Stroke Treatment Rates in Flint, Michigan

By Lesli Skolarus, M.D., M.S.
Associate Professor, Neurology, University of Michigan

Sarah Bailey, M.A.
Executive Director, Bridges into the Future, Flint, MI

Dr. Leslie Skolarus (left) and Elder Sarah Bailey (right)

May is Stroke Awareness Month, and we would like to share some information about stroke and our research with you. Each year, about 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke. Disability is the greatest challenge facing survivors and their families. About two thirds of stroke survivors are left with a disability.

Post-stroke disability is substantially reduced by acute stroke treatments, which include intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and intra-arterial treatment. Unfortunately, these treatments are underutilized—administered to less than 5 percent of U.S. stroke patients. Treatment with tPA must be given in the emergency department (ED) within 4.5 hours of the start of stroke symptoms. 1 The main reason stroke patients do not receive tPA is that they wait too long to call 911. 2 Think of tPA like Drano® for your brain: We want to get the plugged pipe—in the case of stroke, the plugged artery—open as soon as possible. The less time the artery is plugged, the lower the chance of brain damage, so it is extremely important that a person who is experiencing stroke symptoms calls 911 right away.

Continue reading “Stroke Ready: Partnering to Increase Acute Stroke Treatment Rates in Flint, Michigan”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

For the First Time, Healthy People Initiative Focuses on Social Determinants of Health

By Nancy Breen, Ph.D.
Economist, Office of Strategic Planning, Analysis and Reporting, NIMHD and NIMHD Representative to the Healthy People Social Determinants of Health Workgroup

Healthy People Background

The Healthy People initiative is a federal program that provides “science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.” For the past 40 years, Healthy People has monitored the health of Americans and set benchmarks for how we can all be healthier. You can read more about Healthy People online at www.healthypeople.gov.

Nancy Breen, Ph.D.

Nancy Breen, Ph.D.

Healthy People provides a national 10-year framework for health promotion and disease prevention, with measurable objectives and goals, and it invites states and localities to use the national framework and objectives for their own plans. While the focus has always been health promotion and disease prevention, the Healthy People 2020 agenda is the first to use social determinants of health (SDOH) to frame the conceptual understanding of health. For 2000, an overarching goal to “reduce health disparities” was introduced, partly in response to the 1985 Report of the Secretary’s Task Force Report on Black and Minority Health (often referred to as the “Heckler Report”).1 For 2010, that goal was strengthened to “eliminate health disparities.” For Healthy People 2020, one of the overarching goals is to “achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups.”2 The graphic from Healthy People 2020 shows that the overarching goals emphasize the determinants of health.

Continue reading “For the First Time, Healthy People Initiative Focuses on Social Determinants of Health”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Introducing the Language Access Portal

By Kelli Carrington, M.A.
Director, Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

NIMHD Office of Communications and Public Liaison Director Kelli Carrington

Many of us know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed during a doctor’s visit by information about health conditions, medicines, and behavior recommendations. For patients who don’t speak or understand English fluently, the situation can be more than overwhelming—it can be dangerous. Patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) are nearly three times more likely to have an adverse medical outcome.1

Language is one of the most significant barriers to health literacy, the ability to understand the basic health information needed to make good health decisions. Patients who lack health literacy are often unable to read or understand written health information or to speak with their healthcare providers about their symptoms or concerns. These patients are less likely to follow important health recommendations or be able to give informed consent.2

Continue reading “Introducing the Language Access Portal”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Addressing Mental Health in African Americans Through FAITH

By Tiffany Haynes, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education
Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR

Dr. Tiffany Haynes, Ph.D.

Dr. Tiffany Haynes, Ph.D.

Rural African Americans are disproportionately exposed to numerous stressors, such as poverty, racism, and discrimination,1–that place them at risk for experiencing elevated levels of depressive symptoms.6 Elevated levels of depressive symptoms can lead to a host of negative outcomes, including poor management of chronic illnesses (e.g., hypertension, diabetes), poor social and occupational functioning, and development of clinical depression.7 Although effective treatments for decreasing depressive symptoms exist, structural barriers (e.g., lack of available services, transportation) and perceptual barriers (e.g., stigma, fear of misdiagnosis) impede the use of traditional mental health services within these communities, resulting in a significant unmet psychiatric need. Failure to develop culturally appropriate strategies to provide adequate, timely care to rural African Americans can result in a significant public health crisis.

African American churches have been identified as potential venues for providing depression education and treatment for rural African Americans.8 Within the African American rural community, churches represent a key portal through which as much as 85% of the community can be reached.9 Churches have been used to address physical health outcomes in those communities, but few have focused primarily on addressing mental health outcomes10-11. Through the NIMHD-funded project entitled “Faith Academic Initiatives to Transform Health (FAITH) in the Delta,” our partnership, consisting of faith community leaders and University of Arkansas for Medical Science researchers, conducted formative work in the Arkansas Delta. Data suggested that community members consider elevated depressive symptoms to be a significant unmet need. Furthermore, community members suggested that attempts to improve depressive symptoms should do the following:

Continue reading “Addressing Mental Health in African Americans Through FAITH”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

New Funding Opportunity Announcement for Research Centers in Minority Institutions

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

It’s been 5 years since the last funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) was issued. Today I’m pleased to share news that the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is releasing a new FOA that will capitalize on the program’s capacity to generate new scientific discoveries in minority health and health disparities research and to stimulate the next generation of researchers from underrepresented populations in institutions that are committed to this mission.

The RCMI will continue to serve as a flagship program aimed at the development and enhancement of institutional research infrastructure necessary to conduct world-class biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research and to produce well-trained investigators from underrepresented populations who will help enhance diversity in the biomedical research enterprise.

Continue reading “New Funding Opportunity Announcement for Research Centers in Minority Institutions”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Apply Now to the 2017–2018 NIH Medical Research Scholars Program

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) is an excellent research enrichment opportunity for promising students from diverse backgrounds to gain real-life experience in NIH laboratories and patient care areas. NIMHD is proud to participate with other NIH Institutes and Centers in the MRSP. Our goal is to introduce the MRSP to medical, dental, and veterinary students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and encourage them to consider biomedical research as a career.

A medical researcher at work.

A medical researcher at work.

The U.S. population continues to increase in diversity, and there is an urgent need to ensure that the scientific talent which is key to our nation’s success is nurtured, recognized, and supported across all demographic groups. We need more researchers from diverse backgrounds to contribute minority perspectives and priorities to the research agenda, and advance the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in and benefit from health research.

Continue reading “Apply Now to the 2017–2018 NIH Medical Research Scholars Program”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Health Disparities Among American Indians and Alaska Natives: Enormous Hurdles and Opportunities to Advance Health Status

By Linda Burhansstipanov, M.S.P.H., Dr.P.H.
Founder, Native American Cancer Research Corporation and President, Native American Cancer Initiatives, Inc., Pine, Colorado

Linda U. Krebs, RN, Ph.D., AOCN, FAAN
Associate Professor (retired), College of Nursing, University of Colorado at Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus

American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) have long experienced lower health status than other U.S. populations do. AI/ANs born in 2011 have a lower life expectancy than all other U.S. populations (73.7 years vs. 78.1 years).[1] The poverty level among AI/ANs is nearly twice that of the overall U.S. population, and only half as many AI/ANs have health insurance.

linda-b-1

Dr. Linda Burhansstipanov

The socioeconomic conditions where people live and work have a substantial influence on health, and effects are cumulative over a lifetime.[2],[3] In the United States, educational attainment and income are the indicators most commonly used to measure the effect of socioeconomic status on health.3 Compared with other populations, AI/ANs are more likely to have lower socioeconomic status and to live in poverty, leading to less access to cancer prevention and screening and other healthcare services. Additionally, 20 percent of AI/ANs have not completed high school, compared with 8 percent of non-Hispanic Whites. Not completing high school has been associated with unhealthy and risk-taking behaviors.

Continue reading “Health Disparities Among American Indians and Alaska Natives: Enormous Hurdles and Opportunities to Advance Health Status”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Mental Health Risk Factors and Interventions for American Indian and Alaska Native People

By Spero M. Manson, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry; Director, Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health; and The Colorado Trust Chair in American Indian Health and Associate Dean for Research at the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver

Over the past 20 years, as research on alcohol, drug, and mental health disorders has advanced, scientific inquiry among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people has shifted from a primary focus on describing the prevalence of such problems to explorations of ways to address well-documented health disparities.

smmanson_portraitOne example involves detecting and managing depression and subsequent alcohol and substance abuse, risk of suicide, and, more recently, trauma among patients in large primary care settings operated by tribal health programs. In 2001, the Southcentral Foundation’s Primary Care Center in Anchorage, Alaska, initiated Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral for Treatment (SBIRT) among Alaska Native patients age 18 and older.1 Their efforts, which integrated masters-level behavioral health clinicians within the care teams, demonstrated that such evidence-based practices could be tailored to this population in scientifically sound and clinically meaningful ways.2 Over a 5-year period beginning in 2004, 55 percent of the 8,000 patients who scored positive for alcohol use disorder agreed to follow-up treatment. Thanks to those results, the state of Alaska authorized Medicaid reimbursement for SBIRT, leading to the service becoming fully self-sustainable. This approach has been expanded to other tribal primary care settings in Alaska and in rural, reservation, and urban clinics in the lower 48 states. It now includes AI/AN youth ages 12 to 17 and covers other conditions, notably suicide risk and trauma.3

Continue reading “Mental Health Risk Factors and Interventions for American Indian and Alaska Native People”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Apply Now to NIMHD Loan Repayment Programs

UPDATE: Click here to access the Loan Repayment Program Technical Assistance webinar that NIMHD hosted on September 15, 2016.

By Dorothy M. Castille, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator, NIMHD Division of Scientific Programs

Education is the foundation of our nation’s biomedical research enterprise. But a college education is expensive, and a post-graduate education is even more expensive, with the average cost of medical, veterinary, and dental school totaling more than $200,000. In exchange for a commitment to conduct biomedical or behavioral research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will repay up to $70,000 of student loan debt (over two years) per two-year contract through the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs).

If you are a qualified health professional who agrees to engage in NIH mission–relevant research for at least 20 hours per week at a nonprofit or government institution, you may be eligible to apply to one of the five extramural LRPs:

  • Clinical Research Extramural LRP: Patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects
  • Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds Extramural LRP: Research conducted by clinical investigators from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Contraception and Infertility Research Extramural LRP: Research on conditions affecting the ability to conceive and bear young
  • Health Disparities Research Extramural LRP: Research that focuses on minority and other health disparity populations
  • Pediatric Research Extramural LRP: Research that is directly related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children

Continue reading “Apply Now to NIMHD Loan Repayment Programs”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

NIH Begins Recruitment for Landmark Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, NIMHD

logo of NIH's adolescent brain cognitive development study

Today I’m delighted to share some exciting news. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is launching recruitment for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. This is the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. NIMHD is one of eight NIH institutes, centers, and offices along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supporting this landmark study.

Adolescence, the transitional stage between childhood and adulthood, is an important period in human development. While major physical and psychological changes are happening, teenagers are testing their independence and exploring their self-identity. All the while, the brain is undergoing dramatic changes in structure and function.

Continue reading “NIH Begins Recruitment for Landmark Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Welcome to NIMHD Insights, the New NIMHD Blog

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, NIMHD

At the one-year anniversary of my appointment as director of NIMHD, I’m excited to welcome you to our new blog, NIMHD Insights.

NIMHD leads scientific research in two distinct but overlapping areas: minority health and health disparities. But first of all, what do these terms mean?

Minority health concerns the health of the five U.S. racial and ethnic minorities who have historically faced discrimination and social disadvantage. These groups are defined by the U.S. Census and include African Americans/Blacks, Latinos/Hispanics, Asians, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders. All of these populations are usually not included as participants of all types of biomedical research and most are also underrepresented as members of the scientific workforce. At NIMHD, we are committed to addressing health issues within each of the minority groups independent of whether the outcome is worse, better or similar to that of the White comparison group. We value research that emphasizes mechanisms by which health differs within these race/ethnic groups, as well as comparisons to each other and Whites.

Continue reading “Welcome to NIMHD Insights, the New NIMHD Blog”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail