UCLA launches network to study health care disparities affecting minorities
The UCLA Department of Family Medicine, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has launched the Network for Multicultural Research on Health and Healthcare, a group that will study health care disparities affecting minorities with chronic diseases.
The network will also mentor and develop a new generation of researchers with an expertise in health care disparities.
The new group — to be directed by Dr. Michael Rodríguez, associate professor of family medicine, and William Vega, professor of family medicine, both of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA — will draw on the talents of distinguished faculty from several national universities.
"Research has shown us that disparities in health care do exist for certain racial and ethnic groups in the United States," Rodríguez said. "As the population of the United States becomes more and more diverse, it is increasingly important for us to understand the impact of these disparities and devise methods to reduce and eliminate them."
The network's primary aims are to:
- Understand how social, ethnic, linguistic and economic factors affect the way health care providers serve minority populations.
- Study how personal, cultural and social factors promote or impede adequate health care and disease management.
- Examine health care system barriers to quality care for chronic conditions.
- Explore how various factors — including sources of health information, diet and exercise, self-management of chronic conditions, and levels of health literacy among patients and their families — influence minorities' health status.
The network's senior investigators are Dr. José J. Escarce, Dr. Carol Mangione, Dr. Leo S. Morales and Ninez Ponce of UCLA; Margarita Alegría of Harvard University; Dr. Bonnie Duran of the University of Washington; Kyriakos Markides of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable of the University of California, San Francisco; and Roberto Suro of the University of Southern California.
The project will also support five Healthcare Quality Scholars each year, who will address health issues affecting people from underserved groups, with a primary focus on diabetes and obesity, cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, depression, and cancer. This work will aid in the development of successful, independent scientists and increase the pipeline of researchers addressing quality of care for the underserved.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognizes the importance of developing solutions tailored to the unique experiences of the individual patient. Understanding how variations in cultural factors such as immigration status, language ability, generational status and acculturation may impact the health and health care experiences of various immigrant groups is an important step toward those solutions. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the quality of health and health care for all Americans, the foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems affecting the health and health care of those it serves.
The UCLA Department of Family Medicine provides comprehensive primary care to entire families, from newborns to seniors. Its services include low-risk obstetrical care and prenatal and inpatient care at Santa Monica–UCLA Medical Center and Orthopedic Hospital and outpatient care at the Les Kelley Family Health Center in Santa Monica and the Mid-Valley Family Health Center in Van Nuys, Calif. The department is also a leader in family medicine education, for both medical students and residents, and houses a significant research unit focusing on geriatric issues and health care disparities among immigrant families and minority communities in Los Angeles and California.