Columbia University Medical Center

Researchers and Community Leaders Identify Approaches for Research to Improve Northern Manhattan Health Outcomes

March 1, 2012 –Improving health care in Northern Manhattan requires stronger collaborations between physician-scientists and community members, and a federally funded study co-led by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Dominican Women’s Development Center has identified several ways to help researchers and the community work together.

Through the National Institutes of Health Partners in Research Program, researchers, community partners, and advocates from the Dominican Women’s Development Center, the Washington Heights-Inwood Council on Aging, and the Columbia University Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research conducted interviews and focus groups to determine factors that hinder or help community-based participatory research (CBPR.)

The researchers report that collaborations could be improved by:

– Providing more education in the community about health care research
– Creating more channels for community input to academic research
– Sponsoring capacity-building for community organizations, such as training on grant writing
– Convening meetings where both academic and community research is presented

The project also provided training to two individuals from the Dominican Women’s Development Center so that they could conduct interviews for this study and leverage for future research partnerships. The study was conducted in response to the NIH’s interest in research that improves and enhances collaborations between scientists and the community.

Rosita M. Romero, community principal investigator of the Partners in Research Program, explains that the goal of this program was to “jointly identify three important actions items and to initiate the planning process for interventions within CUMC that would ultimately lead to increased participatory engagement of community in CUMC research.”

Dr. Joyce Moon-Howard, academic principal investigator of the Partners in Research Program and Mailman School assistant professor of clinical sociomedical sciences, said that “we are encouraged by the commitment and co-learning that has resulted from our academic-community collaboration on this research. We look forward to the action steps to follow from this research and from our common concerns to address health disparities in Northern Manhattan.”

The research was funded by the National Institute on Aging, project number 1R03AG033929-02.

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Providing services to Dominican/Latina women since 1998, the Dominican Women’s Development Center is one of the leading multi-service non-profit agencies servicing Washington Heights and Inwood. The Washington Heights and Inwood Council on Aging is a grass roots coalition founded in 1972 whose mission is to encourage the expansion and ensure the coordination of services to the elderly in Washington Heights and Inwood. The Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research is part of a national Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) consortium created to accelerate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients. The CTSA program is led by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.  For information about Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health visit www.mailman.columbia.edu

Contact:  Stephanie Berger, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, 212-305-4372, sb2247@columbia.edu

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