Native American and other rural communities in Montana suffer from severe health disparities. Such disparities in Montana's Native Americans result in an all-cause death rate that is 58% higher than the white rate. The long term goal of this proposal is to reduce health disparities in Montana's rural communities. In order to achieve this goal, the health disparities research infrastructure at Montana's research universities must first be developed so that the appropriate expertise and organization exist to develop similar capabilities in rural communities. The proposed Center will address this need by accomplishing four specific aims. 1. Develop the infrastructure of an effective and sustainable Center for Health Equity in Rural Montana (CHERM). 2. Develop a critical mass of health disparities researchers in Montana by training young investigators in health disparities research and hiring investigators with expertise in this area.
This aim will be accomplished first by supporting and mentoring current health disparities researchers at MSU to make them competitive for R01 funding and secondly by sponsoring the hire of one additional tenure track assistant professor at MSU in Native American or rural health disparities research as well as one senior hire at MSU in health disparities research at the professor level (Dr. Julie Baldwin). 3. Investigate and subsequently understand the etiology of diseases that cause health disparities and rationally develop interventions that are both efficacious and consistent with and respectful of cultural beliefs.
Thi aim will be accomplished in part by supporting research projects that deal with health disparities in Montana's Native and Latino communities. 4. Develop the ability of CHERM investigators to take interdisciplinary approaches in mitigating health disparities in rural Montana. The CHERM pilot project will partner sociologists, psychologists, and bench scientists such as immunologists, physiologists and microbiologists to understand how social, cultural, and behavioral factors, as well as physiological factors, interact to cause health disparities.
Rural communities in Montana, particularly Native communities, experience severe health disparities. This proposal will build health research and intervention capacity in the communities. However, to accomplish this, health disparities research capacity must first be built at Montana's research institutions so that these Institutions can in turn help the communities. Accomplishing this will result in better rural community health.