The social, behavioral, and health science literatures converge in their conclusion as to the health status and care of older American Indians and Alaska Natives (Al/ANs). By virtually any measure, in comparison to their counterparts in the general population, Native elders are at greater risk for numerous acute as well as chronic illnesses, suffer more frequent comorbidities, have less access to high quality, needed services, and are slower to seek care leading to more serious, complicated presentations. The University of Colorado Denver's (UCD) and the University of Washington's (UW) Native Elder Research Center (NERC) has contributed significantly to closing these gaps and to increasing the participation of Native people in related research. Accordingly, this grant application seeks renewed funding to continue our effort, the specific programmatic aims of which are to sustain and: 1) enhance the administrative structure, supported by a large of relevant Al/AN programs, required to direct and coordinate a culturally relevant, scientifically meritorious effort of this nature; 2) expand active partnerships with Al/AN communities that insure continuous access to and involvement of Native elders, their families, and local systems of care in the aging research process; 3) extend an extensive network of collaborative links to identify, recruit, and promote a cadre of Al/AN researchers willing to commit themselves to developing their potential as scientists specializing in aging research; 4) improve a carefully crafted set of mechanisms, informed by nearly 2 decades of experience, to equip Al/AN investigators for successful research careers at the interface of aging, health, and culture; 5) enlarge an existing group of investigators to include even more diverse disciplinary expertise of an exceptionally qualified nature that can address a broad range of high-priority questions related to the aging of Native elders, and 6) promote a program of research that holds promise for reducing the differentials in health status and care which now plague this special population. The NERC/RCMAR is located in the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Programs of the Colorado School of Public Health and the Center for Clinical and Epidemiological Research in the Department of Medicine at the UW and capitalizes on their impressive array of relevant resources.
American Indian and Alaska Native (Al/AN) elders are at greater risk than others in the general population for both acute and chronic health problems. The Native Elder Research Center addresses the needs of Al/AN elders by developing partnerships, training Al/AN researchers, and promoting research to address these health problems.
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