Traditional research often fails to address health disparities because of a lack of cultural awareness and understanding. Charles LeMaistre, MD, once said "If you want to find the cure for cancer you need to find out what people eat and why they eat it, and the only way you can do that is to sit at their kitchen table and ask them." The goal is to provide a way for communities and researchers to sit at the kitchen table and together develop effective, sustainable interventions to reduce health disparities. Obesity and its detrimental effects are concerns of Alabama rural Black Belt communities and researchers. Alabama is one of the most obese states in the nation (39.2 percent to 47.9 percent) and rural Black Belt counties are the most obese. These percentages put people In the Black Belt at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other health conditions. In working with communities to reduce these disparities, we will collaboratively build an infrastructure to develop effective, sustainable interventions through the following Specific Aims: 1) establish and maintain a Community Advisory Board that will provide oversight for the guidance of infrastructure development and to facilitate dissemination, implementation, and evaluation of these CBPR project efforts;2) create and maintain a research training program that builds the CBPR capacity of community members and community-based organizations (CBOs), and work with community members and CBOs to increase the cultural competency of interdisciplinary academic researchers;3) develop a Community Engaged Academic education program that provides education and training to current and future Community Engaged Family Medicine clinicians and interdisciplinary academic researchers who have an interest in conducting CBPR in the Black Belt;4) establish and maintain a dissemination plan for shared analysis and reporting of results and experiences among community members, current and future Community Engaged Family Medicine clinicians, and interdisciplinary academic researchers both internally and externally;and, 5) construct and pilot a CBPR Intervention Incubator to develop and oversee community-engaged research interventions aimed to impact obesity levels within a defined Black Belt community.
This project seeks to work with communities to create effective and sustainable interventions that will reduce obesity and related health disparities in the rural Black Belt of Alabama. If we can create a way that communities, rural physicians, and academic researchers can understand each other and work together to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate interventions, they are more likely to be successful.