Persistent and pronounced differences in health by race/ethnicity (often termed health disparities) exist for multiple health outcomes. Despite repeated documentation of these disparities, there is still substantial debate on the driving forces behind them. Identifying the factors that generate these disparities has obvious implications for interventions and policies to improve health in minority populations and reduce disparities. There is a growing sense that current approaches to understanding these disparities, which often attempt to fragment the problem into distinct social and biological components, are insufficient, not only from the point of view of scientific understanding, but also from the point of view of identifying the most effective strategies to reduce disparities in the real world. Understanding health disparities will require integration of social and biological factors;as well as consideration, not only of individual characteristics, but also characteristics of the multiple contexts in which individuals live and work. The overarching goal of the Michigan Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities (CIAHD) is to promote and support research that comprehensively integrates social and biological factors within a multilevel framework in understanding the determinants of minority health and health disparities. Although the center will initially focus on applying this model to cardiovascular risk, it provides a framework useful to all minority health and health disparities researchers. This multilevel integrated approach is crucial to identifying the interventions and strategies most likely to improve minority health and reduce health disparities. This overarching goal will be achieved through a set of interrelated Aims.
Aim 1. To advance scientific understanding of how the interrelation of social and biologic factors contributes to health in minority populations and health disparities with a specific focus on cardiovascular risk.
Aim 2. To establish a mutually beneficial partnership between the University of Michigan and the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) (through its partners Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi Medical Center) to advance research and training within our multilevel integrated framework.
Aim 3. To create a forum that will integrate and centralize ongoing minority health and health disparities research broadly at the University of Michigan and our partner institutions under the general umbrella of a multilevel framework that integrates social and biological factors.
Aim 4. To disseminate the multilevel integrated paradigm to the biomedical and health research community, as well as to the public generally.
These aims will be achieved through an Administrative Core and a Research Core. The Administrative Core will provide leadership and coordination and will organize training, as well as intra-and-inter-institutional exchanges. The Research Core will include three research projects linked to the overall theme (one of which is a partnership between the University of Michigan and JHS), pilot projects, and statistical support.
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