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Addressing Health Disparities among Oklahoma Minority and Rural Communities through Clinical Research Education and Career Development

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PROJECT SUMMARY A critical mass of clinical researchers is needed to reduce health disparities affecting minority and underserved communities. The health status of Oklahomans is far below the United States average for many metrics, consistently ranking as one of the five states with the worst overall health. Furthermore, chronic health conditions disproportionately affect minority and underserved communities in the state. Clinical researchers require training, and practical research experiences, in population health, epidemiology, quantitative and qualitative research methods, cultural sensitivity, and community-based participatory research methods in order to form effective partnerships with communities to address health needs. The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC), with its long-standing mission to educate a diverse body of students at the professional and graduate levels to become highly qualified health services practitioners, educators, and research scientists, is uniquely poised to address health disparities among Native American, Hispanic, African American, and rural populations in Oklahoma by enhancing the training programs and research career development programs for clinical investigators, specifically minority and underrepresented investigators. Furthermore, a critical mass of senior investigators with extensive mentoring experience and a diverse portfolio of health disparities research projects is available to mentor the cohort of program participants. With an overall goal to enhance clinical research methods expertise and research careers among minority researchers, we will complete the following specific aims: (1)To enrich the existing Master of Science in Clinical and Translational Science degree curriculum to include expanded coursework in methods of qualitative research, community assessment and intervention, cultural sensitivity, and community-based participatory research with a focus on health disparities affecting minority and underserved communities, (2) To support and guide post-doctoral minority clinical and population health investigators in their development of independent research programs focused on cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes, and rheumatic disease-related health disparities among minority and underserved communities through mentored research experiences, and (3) To expand the cadre of minority investigators who have research skills necessary to meaningfully engage with minority and underserved communities in health disparities research through dissemination of program components to improve the health of Oklahomans, tribal nation citizens, and communities with similar health challenges. The training programs will undergo ongoing program evaluation and revision to address the skill development needs of the researchers. The impact of this proposed project will be broadened through the dissemination of the resulting training and educational programs.
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