This application requests support for a scientific workshop entitled, "Bridging Communication Gaps to Achieve Healthy Weight in Black Communities", under PA-12-212. The 2014 workshop will be the 6th in a successful series of biennial workshops convened under the auspices of the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network (AACORN), a national research network that is based at the University of Pennsylvania. AACORN links scholars, researchers and community-based research partners nationally in efforts to increase the quality, quantity, and effective translation of research to address weight issues in African American communities. The proposed 2.5-day scientific workshop will engage 80 - 100 academic researchers and community partners to achieve the following aims: 1) identify communication approaches that have the potential to improve dissemination and uptake of evidence-based public health messages and intervention strategies related to healthy eating, active living, and obesity in black communities, and 2) explore best practices for enhancing the capacity of academic researchers and community research partners for using the approaches identified under Aim 1 to reach diverse audiences of decision makers and black community stakeholders effectively, through various communication channels. Participants will include academic scholars, scholars-in-training, and professionals from public health, nutrition and food studies, exercise science, public policy, marketing, journalism, civil rights and community-based organizations, clergy, business owners, and the lay community. The rationale for the workshop relates to the need to increase the effectiveness of research translation and communication among academic researchers, community partners, and key actors/stakeholders, and on recent recommendation from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). An AACORN workshop devoted to the topic of effective communication of evidence-based health messages and intervention strategies is timely given the IOM recommendation and the appropriateness of this topic as a natural extension of AACORN's research and prior national workshops. The focus directly addresses NIH strategic goals for elimination of racial/ethnic disparities in obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Workshop content will be informed by an established communication framework. Workshop sessions will address aspects of message environments related to food, physical activity, and weight issues among black children and adults based on the framework. Speakers will include individuals with expertise in obesity prevention, marketing, communication, journalism, advertising, and radio/television/print media. Workshop outcomes will be disseminated via a social marketing campaign and manuscript describing best practices identified during the workshop. A collection of relevant resources will be created and disseminated via AACORN's website and Listserv. Workshop participants will be asked to complete an online evaluation survey to provide feedback and suggestions based on their experience at the workshop.
Obesity prevalence and related risks are higher in African Americans compared to whites;effective strategies for communicating health-related messages to decision makers and relevant key stakeholders are needed. Established communication frameworks can be used to support a fruitful dialogue to identify communication approaches and best practices for disseminating weight-related information in black communities. This 2.5-day scientific workshop will engage a diverse group of scholars and community partners to deliberate on these issues from a transdisciplinary perspective.