UCR School of Medicine Center Approved for Engagement Award by Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

The Center for Healthy Communities is building partnerships and seeking input from residents in the Riverside neighborhoods of Arlanza, Casa Blanca, and the Eastside

people listening to speaker

Dr. Greer Sullivan, director of the Center for Healthy Communities speaks to guests at the Latino Health Riverside Project Reception on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at the Redmond Dining Room at the UCR Alumni & Visitors Center. Photo by Ross French

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has awarded a $250,000 contract to the UCR medical school’s Center for Healthy Communities for a community engagement project aimed ultimately at improving the health of Latino residents of the city of Riverside through partnered research.

PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.

Titled “Latino Health Riverside,” the UCR project is being conducted in partnership with community stakeholders in the Riverside neighborhoods of Arlanza, Casa Blanca and the Eastside. The expertise of residents in these communities will be tapped to learn more about health-related problems of greatest concern and ideas for solutions. The project is made possible by the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award received by the Center for Healthy Communities.

Members of the Latino Health Riverside Steering Committee met at Ysmael Villegas Community Center on July 1, 2015. Photo by Ross French

Members of the Latino Health Riverside Steering Committee met at Ysmael Villegas Community Center on July 1, 2015. Photo by Ross French

“We know there is a tremendous need to better address health issues in the very large and growing Latino community in Riverside. To do that, we need to better understand the perspectives of community members and involve them in creating solutions to health problems,” said Dr. Greer Sullivan, associate dean for population health in the UCR School of Medicine and director of the Center for Healthy Communities.

A steering committee for the two-year project has already been created, chaired by Mary Figueroa, a UCR graduate, past president and current member of the Riverside Community College (RCC) District Board and life long member of Riverside’s Latino community, and Christina Reaves, deputy director of the Center for Healthy Communities.

“I am confident that this project will be successful because the outreach and involvement from the community is built in from the very beginning,” Figueroa said. “Over the next two years, we will hear from the community in a series of meetings in people’s homes and in larger community forums in each neighborhood. In this way, we will engage the entire community from the very onset to partner in creating an environment that contributes to improving the health of people living in these three neighborhoods and ultimately, throughout the entire Riverside region.”

As part of the project, training to build the capacity of community-based organizations, faculty and students to partner in research will focus on the principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR). CBPR is an approach to partnered research that is still somewhat novel in the academic arena. But it is viewed as an effective means of bringing about positive changes in health outcomes, especially for communities that experience health disparities.

“Near the end of the project, we will organize interest groups to talk about what we can do – as a community – to address health concerns in Arlanza, Casa Blanca and the Eastside through partnered research. We are also committed to sharing our findings with the community and in the community,” Reaves said.

The goal is to be as inclusive as possible, not just for this project but to build partnerships and trust for projects in the future.

Latino Health Riverside and the other projects approved for funding by the PCORI Engagement Award Program were selected through a highly competitive review process in which applications were assessed for their ability to meet PCORI’s engagement goals and objectives, as well as program criteria. PCORI has awarded nearly $8.3 million to support 44 projects to date through this program. For more information about PCORI’s funding to support engagement efforts, visit http://www.pcori.org/content/eugene-washington-pcori-engagement-awards/.

– Jeanette Marantos contributed to this story.

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