CDC Grant to Improve Prenatal Awareness and Reduce Infant Mortality Among African American Women
Sathya Achia Abraham
University Public Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University has received a nearly $2 million
grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve pregnancy
outcomes among African American populations in Richmond.
VCU was one
of 40 institutions selected nationwide to receive funding through the CDC's
Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) U.S. program.
program will target five racial and ethnic groups: African Americans,
Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and American
Indians/Alaska Natives. REACH U.S. activities focus on a range of key health
areas that contribute to health disparities, including cardiovascular disease,
diabetes, breast and cervical cancer, hepatitis B, asthma, infant mortality and
Through the five-year grant,
principal investigator Dace Svikis, Ph.D.,
deputy director of the VCU
Institute for Women's Health, professor of psychology, and director of Promoting Healthy Pregnancies in the VCU Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
will support local efforts to address infant mortality and prenatal awareness
among economically disadvantaged African American populations in Richmond. The program will be a
collaboration between the VCU Institute for Women's Health and the VCU Center on Health Disparities.
"We have proposed an intervention
model to improve infant mortality among this population with a focus on the
cultural, social and environmental barriers to care," Svikis said.
to Svikis, the model involves three components. The first calls for each
expectant mother to be assigned a case navigator, who will guide each woman
through the system of care and teach her the skills to eventually navigate on
her own. The second component will help the case navigator increase a woman's
level of motivation to participate in prenatal care by offering modest monetary
incentives such as gift certificates to reward successful follow-through. The
third component focuses on the practitioner, including educational training in
health disparities as well as in how to identify personal biases and how to use
empathic and culturally sensitive approaches when providing care to patients.
"We are truly invested in making a
difference in our community, and we are pleased to have received significant
input from various community partnership groups," said Sheryl Garland, vice
president for the Department of Community Outreach for the VCU Health System
and administrative director of the VCU Center on Health Disparities.
"This is the first successful
research collaboration between the VCU Institute for Women's Health and Center
on Health Disparities," said Susan Kornstein, M.D., executive director of the Institute
for Women's Health. "This is clearly an area that faculty involved in both
institutes care deeply about."
REACH U.S. initiative, 18 national and regional Centers of Excellence in the
Elimination of Disparities (CEEDs) and 22 Action Communities will be
established throughout the country. The CEEDs will serve as national resource
centers with expertise in specific ethnic populations and will train additional
communities to further spread the impact of REACH activities. The Action
Communities will implement and evaluate successful approaches within a specific
community to impact population groups, rather than individuals, and focus on
key health conditions that contribute to health disparities.
faculty involved in the project include Judith Bradford, Ph.D.; Susan Lanni,
M.D.; Lori Keyser-Marcus, Ph.D.; Saba Masho, Ph.D.; and Tatyana Thweatt, Ph.D.
proposed model was developed by the Promoting
Healthy Pregnancies Coalition (PHPC), a group of community care providers that
includes Richmond Healthy Start, the VCU Health System, Children's Health
Involving Parents, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, Healthy Families of
Richmond, Virginia Premier Health Plan and Richmond City Health District. PHPC has focused on infant mortality for more
than 15 years and has established a network of services designed to meet the
multiple needs of the predominantly African American community that they serve.
the REACH program has demonstrated that fully engaging communities in health
strategies that address the unique social, economic and cultural circumstances
of racial and ethnic minority groups can reduce health disparities. For more
information about the REACH program, visit CDC's Web site at www.cdc.gov/reach.
- About VCU and the VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 223 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.