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New Duke Research Center Will Address Disparities in Clinical Care

The REACH Equity Center will be launched in a program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Published January 8, 2018 | Updated January 9, 2018

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DURHAM, N.C. -- Disparities in health care and health outcomes are well documented, particularly for people of color. A new center at Duke, funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), is taking a unique approach to try to eliminate these disparities.

With an award of more than $7.2 million from NIMHD, part of the National Institutes of Health, the new Duke Center for REsearch to AdvanCe Healthcare Equity (REACH Equity) will address racial and ethnic disparities in health by developing and testing interventions to improve the experience of patients when they interact with health care providers and the health system.

Research has long established the issue, finding higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, certain cancers, and pre-term births among African Americans compared to whites. Additionally, social determinants such as poverty, education, access to health care, and community resources widen the disparities gap. And, finally, how health care is delivered also contributes, with racial and ethnic differences noted in who gets certain life-saving treatments and tests, how doctors communicate with patients, and how patients experience their interactions with providers and institutions.

REACH Equity extends this descriptive work with a focus on change.

“What is most exciting about REACH Equity is its goal to move from describing disparities in health between whites and minority patients to developing actionable ways for health care providers and health systems to improve patient care and reduce these disparities,” said Kimberly Johnson, M.D., associate professor of medicine and the project’s principal investigator.

The program’s initiatives will be rolled out for Duke faculty and trainees on Friday, Jan. 12, when Duke will launch the new REACH Equity Center in a special event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The MLK event is co-sponsored by the Department of Medicine and its Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee, the School of Medicine and its Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the School of Nursing.

After introductory remarks by Mary Klotman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, And Marion Broome, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, a keynote address delivered by Johnson will introduce participants from across Duke’s campus to the center’s three primary studies:

·       Seeking to address disparities through improved provider-patient communication

·       Working to improve assessment and communication of patient needs’

·       And training providers to understand and guard against implicit biases.

Participants will also learn about the educational, training and networking activities of REACH Equity to encourage involvement. Using a “speed dating” model, about a dozen investigators will give brief presentations about their work in disparities research and the kind of scientists they’d like to “date” (i.e., collaborate with).

“We see this as an excellent opportunity to bring together disparities and minority health researchers from across the campus to inform each other, potentially forge new collaborations, and celebrate together under the REACH Equity umbrella,” Johnson said.

What: Launch/presentation of REACH Equity health disparities research center

When: 8 a.m. -11:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018

Where: Trent Semans Great Hall

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