- 1 BrotherlyACT: Technology-Enhanced Contemplative Practices for Violence-Impacted Young Black Men
- 2 Needs Assessment of Resources for Minoritized Youth Chronic Pain
- 3 Community Health Worker Perspectives on Healthy Lifestyle Counseling and Weight Stigma
- 4 Developing a Community Health Worker Intervention to Promote Public Benefit Use and Cardiometabolic Health Among African Americans
- 5 Qualitative Analysis to Understand the Rise of Congenital Syphilis in Chicago, IL
- 6 A community-based research team on musculoskeletal pain in African Americans
- 7 Building community partnerships through the Practice Quitting Project
- 8 A Snapshot of Mental Health Care Delivery within School-Based Health Centers
BrotherlyACT: Technology-Enhanced Contemplative Practices for Violence-Impacted Young Black Men
Associate Professor, Rush University Medical Center
We are currently conducting an IRB-approved formative study to develop and adapt a culturally tailored, strength-based web and mobile-accessible intervention called BrotherlyACT. This intervention is designed to prevent and reduce serious youth violence and lethality among young Black males (YBM), ages 15-24, by offering them brief psychoeducation on contemplative practices and non-judgmental behavior change strategies, as well as add-on digital tools (for risk assessment, goal setting, safety planning, and positive future orientation) – all delivered via a digital platform that meets YBM where they are.
BrotherlyACT will be based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Using a community-engaged approach, we will conduct a concurrent needs assessment of this type of intervention and rapid prototyping sessions with YBM (15-24 years) who have perpetrated any form of youth violence in the past year and their service providers with insights specific to Chicago neighborhoods.
Minigrant funds will be used for a 3-day violence prevention and youth health hackathon. We welcome YBM, ages 15-17, who live in Chicago or surrounding areas and interested in understanding the principles of mobile app and mHealth design, to participate in an online hands-on workshop. Our goals are 1) to spark their interest in mHealth interventions and even lead them to IT careers, 2) to provide them with technical experience that can be a viable addition to job CV/resume and college applications, 3) to provide participants with a learning opportunity that is hands-on and interdisciplinary. 4) Finally, we hope to provide certificates and the possibility of receiving a recommendation letter from the study team for college and job applications.
Community Partners: Chicago Black Therapists Network, Hekademeia Research Solutions
Needs Assessment of Resources for Minoritized Youth Chronic Pain
Associate Professor, DePaul University
The goal of this formative research proposal is to assess the needs and assets of minoritized youth with chronic pain. As a result of this project, we anticipate learning about gaps in pain management resources available to Black youth. Youth of color and youth from economically marginalized neighborhoods are at increased risk for under-treatment of pain (Institute of Medicine, 2011). Chronic pain can last years, even through adulthood. Thus, timely treatment is recommended to improve adolescents’ quality of life. Ideal chronic pain management consists of evidence-based multidisciplinary approaches. Coordinated medical care, psychological support, and physical therapy can all benefit patients; unfortunately, there are often barriers to receiving this specialty care. While these treatment modalities are available in specialty chronic pain clinics, patients served in these clinics do not often come from minoritized backgrounds. Primary care physicians are often tasked with initial treatment of pain, and few providers outside of specialty chronic pain clinics have the resources or training to implement comprehensive pain management approaches. In order to understand how to best support minoritized youth with chronic pain and their families, we need to improve our understanding of community assets and needs, and stakeholder input regarding priorities for next steps.
Community Health Worker Perspectives on Healthy Lifestyle Counseling and Weight Stigma
Fellow, University of Chicago
The way that we currently identify and address what we consider elevated weight as an indicator of elevated cardiometabolic risk in a primary care clinic setting is suboptimal due to a variety of barriers including limited time and contact opportunities, risk to therapeutic relationship when raising a sensitive topic in the setting of insufficient trust, lack of access to effective treatment options and referral resources, and limited ability to address many social determinants of health that affect the obesogenic environment. We hypothesize that community health workers (CHWs) could be instrumental in helping to address and facilitate healthy lifestyle changes within a trusted relationship and without some of the constraints found within a primary care clinic.
We propose to use focus groups to elicit the perspectives of local CHWs on the concept of weight stigma and how it may or may not affect the conversations they have with clients about weight and healthy lifestyle. We will also elicit perspectives on their current standard of care and approach to conversations about nutrition and exercise as well as their ability to connect clients to needed resources and care and address barriers related to social determinants of health. We aim to use this information to eventually develop a curriculum to better prepare CHWs to have sensitive conversations about weight and healthy lifestyle with adolescents and families using non-stigmatizing and strength-based language and informed by updated evidence about the obesogenic environment.
Community Partner: Sinai Urban Health Institute Center for CHW Research, Outcomes and Workforce Development (SUHI CROWD)
Developing a Community Health Worker Intervention to Promote Public Benefit Use and Cardiometabolic Health Among African Americans
Assistant Professor, DePaul University
Heart disease and other cardiometabolic disorders are a major health issue for low-income Black Chicagoans living in overburdened and under-resourced neighborhoods. Community health worker (CHW) programs, such as the program at Sinai Chicago, are an important part of the health system’s response, connecting high risk patients with resources to address their health needs as well as the underlying social determinants that can impact their health, such as food and housing insecurity. While CHWs provide information to patients about public benefits, formal assistance with accessing benefits has not historically been part of the CHW role.
The activities proposed here will allow us to produce 1) a theory of change, and 2) a study
protocol, including intervention materials and measures, that will position us to implement a
pilot study with the support of a C3EN pilot research grant, and ultimately a larger-scale
research effort supported by an NIH R-series grant. Ultimately, our research will examine how utilizing CHWs to connect patients with public benefits, along with providing them health education and social support, can reduce cardiometabolic risk factors in a high risk population.
Community Partner: Sinai Urban Health Institute Center
Qualitative Analysis to Understand the Rise of Congenital Syphilis in Chicago, IL
Fellow, University of Chicago
The purpose of the study is to utilize a sociometric network approach to conduct in-depth qualitative interviews with individuals who have given birth to children with possible or confirmed congenital syphilis (CS) and required penicillin as part of their management, in addition to providers and care services of the women prior to delivery of the infant. Congenital syphilis (CS) is on the rise both locally and nation wide, and we are seeing an unfortunate disparity in the demographics of CS both in Chicago and nationwide, with minority populations and those living in areas with high rates of poverty having the highest incidence. CS is highly preventable through early detection and treatment, but despite efficacy of penicillin in preventing CS, there still exist several distinct linkage gaps in the CS prevention continuum, and the treatment does not eliminate the risk of transmission. Additionally, HIV is synergistic with multiple other infectious diseases, such as syphilis, because the risk behaviors that lead to HIV acquisition HIV may be similar to the other infections, and vice versa. Therefore, any additional studies addressing a rise in syphilis may directly or indirectly address HIV. We aim to use social network analysis to identify factors contributing to the rise in cases of CS. The most comprehensive of these methods is a sociometric network approach, which features interviews with multiple members of a social network, including health care providers of the patients. The study is currently in the process of IRB approval. Interviews would occur with approximately 8-12 women who delivered at Comer Children’s Hospital between 2021-2023, and with approximately 8-10 doctors, advanced practitioners, and ancillary staff in pre-natal clinics of the women who delivered. Financial incentives will be offered for their time with interviews expected to up to 60 minutes. Topics to be explored include perspectives of the quality prenatal and post-partum care received, barriers to care, impact of stigma, and health literacy. We predict additional themes will also be presented that are unknown at this time. The interviews will be recorded, transcribed, and then will then be coded and analyzed with Qualitative Data Analytic software with the use of multiple trained coders and data scientists to ensure validity and reliability of the results and interpretations. This approach will allow us to identify factors impacting an individual’s entry into, retention in, and outcomes within the CS prevention continuum in Chicago, further informing the reasons behind the rise in CS, and design of future studies and interventions. At the end of the interview process, educational materials will be offered to participants in both cohorts describing syphilis, congenital syphilis, and strategies on how to reduce the spread of syphilis including online links through the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Additional educational materials will be offered on other sexually transmitted infections that often coinfect with syphilis such as HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea and strategies on how to reduce the spread of these STI’s including links to CDC and descriptions of HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) therapies.
Community Partners: Third Coast Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and Chicago Center for HIV Elimination (CCHE)
A community-based research team on musculoskeletal pain in African Americans
Assistant Professor, Rush University Medical Center
Musculoskeletal disease is the world’s leading cause of years lived with disability. Race, income, and education are key drivers of musculoskeletal disease, and our recent work demonstrated that these social factors play a larger role than traditional biomedical correlates to pain like age, sex, and BMI. Our preliminary pilot survey of Chicago residents (N=25, age: 40±13, 73% female, 64% African American, 40% Hispanic) confirmed that the majority of African American and Hispanic adults (84% in our sample) are living with moderate to severe musculoskeletal pain. Still, it’s not clear what social factors lead to this disparity.
Pastor Neal directs activities at the Timothy Community Corporation including worship services, fitness classes, and music/art classes. We propose to develop an 8-member team with lived experience with musculoskeletal disease from Pastor Neal’s congregation and local community. This award would pay for the team’s time to discuss their experience with musculoskeletal pain, to discuss the results of our preliminary survey on social factors and musculoskeletal health, to develop a community-focused survey, and plan future prospective studies of musculoskeletal health in their community.
Building community partnerships through the Practice Quitting Project
Associate Professor, Rush University Medical Center
The proposed project will supplement a project entitled, “A Community-Based Approach to Foster Tobacco Cessation through Practice Quitting.” This project will convene a Community Advisory Board to co-develop and pilot test a novel behavioral program to increase cessation readiness among African American smokers not yet ready to quit.
Community Partners: Phalanx Family Services
A Snapshot of Mental Health Care Delivery within School-Based Health Centers
Associate Professor, University of Chicago
This project aims to characterize the current practices and protocols for mental health services in Illinois school-based health centers (SBHCs) to inform potential future interventions and their successful implementation. As part of a community-academic partnership, we will assess patient characteristics, staffing, services offered, and resources for mental health care at the 66 Illinois SBHCs. These findings will have several impacts. The data will provide the first in-depth snapshot of mental health care delivery in SBHCs across the state, systematically examining current practices and models of care. Additionally, the engagement of SBHCs state-wide will help identify a subset of SBHCs for subsequent in-depth work to adapt and pilot innovative mental health care models.
The activities also will support continued partnership between Dr. Volerman and EverThrive Illinois, a community-based partner that supports Illinois SBHCs. This partnership was initially founded based on shared missions related to health equity and school health. The findings will serve as preliminary work for future grants proposals by this community-academic partnership to work toward the goal of successful implementation of accessible and sustainable mental health interventions in SBHCs. Such work has potential to streamline access to care and reduce disparity-related gaps in mental health care.