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Project Title:Developing the Capacity for Community-Driven Research To Eliminate Health DisparitiesInstitution Name:San Diego State University Innovation Category:Research and Regional Stewardship Project Director:Stergios Roussos, Director Contact Information:(209) 489-9913, sroussos@acrd.usWebsite:http://www.gvhc.org/gvhc_new
Project Description:Since 2003, leaders of a major network of Federally Qualified Health Centers and a university-based team in Merced, CA have nurtured a community-driven research collaboration to address health and health-care disparities in one of the nation’s largest agricultural regions. The collaboration originated from discussions on how to assess organizational performance for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) and has evolved to internally- and externally-funded research projects to improve language access and chronic care. Throughout, the community organization and university partner collaborated to develop new competencies and resources, including staff and funding.
  1. Describe the evolution of a community-driven research partnership to eliminate health disparities
  2. Illustrate the challenges and successes for community-driven health disparities research through one case study of the partnership’s research projects                                                   
  3. Outline lessons for academic and community partners seeking to establish community-driven research to eliminate health disparities
  1. Since 2003, five evaluation and research projects (three experimental studies) to improve preventive services for patients with cultural and linguistic barriers; over $1.5 million to support community and academic capacity for community-based research; experimental evidence for improved patient services; and, research training for students and staff.                                                           
  2. Projected/Future Outcomes: Incorporation of a research agenda into organizational and community strategic plans, continued funding to support community and academic research, and development and dissemination of lessons to community and academic audiences.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:Leaders and staff of the university and community organization learned to appreciate and value their different views and priorities. Developing strong relationships required time, patience and commitment to learning. Relationship building was critical to developing and implementing collaborative research that balances scientific rigor and efficient delivery of health services toward effective reduction of health disparities. As each partner became more capable of understanding each other’s needs, resources and priorities, both were able to find ways to cut costs (of research and service delivery) and improve performance as indicated by new and larger collaborative research projects to address health disparities.
Evaluation Approach:Changes in organizational practices, programs and policies to address health disparities are documented through an organization-wide assessment of staff, patients and the system of care. Experimental and quasi-experimental research designs are implemented in studies conducted by the partnership.
Potential for Replication:The academic-community team has sustained (and grown) the participatory research approach since 2003.  Research projects began in one site and have been expanded through the community health centers’ 25 sites.  The community partner has replicated the approach with new research partners (and other universities).
Additional Resources:

Golden Valley Health Centers, illustration of programs http://www.gvhc.org/programs.php

Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health (CBEACH), the Center at SDSU leading this innovation. http://www.cbeach.org

California Breast Cancer Research Program (one important grantmaker of community-academic research projects) http://www.cbcrp.org/

CEO-to-CEO Contact:Elliot Hirshman , Presidentpresidents.office@sdsu.edu
(619) 594-5201
Date Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011