Addressing health disparities and preventing disease

American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities experience elevated rates of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. These communities are historically underserved when it comes to health care. Little research has been conducted to better understand and address their health care needs.

Dr. Dedra Buchwald of the WSU Health Sciences Spokane campus hopes to equip these communities with powerful tools to improve blood pressure control, and ultimately cardiovascular disease and stroke. With a $10 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Dr. Buchwald will work with a Southwest tribe, an Alaska Native health care organization, and three Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community-based organizations to reduce health risks related to high blood pressure.

Taking aim at chronic disease

The grant is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities Research Program (TCC), which focuses on priority areas in minority health and health disparities. Dr. Buchwald will create one of two TCC centers that target chronic disease prevention. The other center will be based at Michigan State University.

A community partnership

Dr. Buchwald and fellow Principal Investigator, Dr. Spero Manson of the University of Colorado Denver, plan to engage community members in all aspects of the research process. The leaders of the Center’s three intervention projects are all American Indian or Alaska Native, and all are former mentees. The Center also includes teams of personnel who represent the spectrum of National Institute of Minority Health and Health

Disparities staff, academic institutions, and health care systems and agencies that play a role in serving minority communities. In addition, Drs. Buchwald and Manson will foster new scientific collaborations with local and regional partners. Scientifically rigorous and culturally informed, their investigations will respond to community needs while honoring community values.