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Reducing the incidence of heart disease in the high-risk African-American population in Indiana is the aim of a new $1.5 million grant at Purdue University.

“Heart disease not only can lead to premature death but also affect the quality of life for many individuals,” said Mohan J. Dutta, professor of health communication and director of the project. “Unfortunately, improvements in disease prevention are small, and this project, which will emphasize a community-driven, culture-centered approach, really positions us to bring about a paradigm shift to improve the effectiveness of public health programs. Doing so could help us address the high health disparities experienced by African-Americans by creating participatory spaces for African-American communities to voice their opinions about health issues.”

Dutta and his team will collaborate with the Indiana Minority Health Coalition and its affiliates in Lake and Marion counties during the three-year project, which is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The research team will create a technology hub that will allow partners and patients to post information, collaborate online, offer feedback and build technology-based community infrastructures. This health disparities hub will utilize HUBzero, a Web portal environment developed at Purdue.

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Co-principal investigator William “Bart” Collins, clinical associate professor and director of health-care communications at Purdue’s Regenstrief Center, will be the coordinator for this aspect of the project. The research group also is composed of a second co-principal investigator, Titilayo A. Okoror, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology, and team members Gary L. Kreps, the Eileen and Steve Mandell Endowed Chair in Health Communication and director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University; Stephen C. Hines, vice president for research at the Health Research and Educational Trust in Chicago; and Calvin E. Roberson Jr., vice president of planning and program development at the Indiana Minority Health Coalition.

The project will focus on heart disease, specifically modifying how the information is outlined in the well-known Comparative Effectiveness Research Summary Guides that are published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. These guides report the most current information about a variety of diseases ranging from osteoporosis to heart disease. The information about prevention and treatment has essential information for researchers and health-care service providers. While available to patients, it is not always utilized.


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