The Alliance for Research in Community Health (ARCH) held a strategic planning conference this week, bringing together 32 Dayton community leaders with medical school faculty. ARCH is a collaborative partnership between the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) and the Wright State University Department of Family Medicine.
Attendees learned about a research tool called "participatory research." Kate Cauley, Ph.D., director of the Center for Healthy Communities, explains, "Participatory research is a way to support the wisdom that already exists in a community by involving people to a) identify common problems, issues, and needs, and b) present practical knowledge to a community to help create action plans and develop change under local conditions." Mark E. Clasen, M.D., Ph.D., of the Wright State University Department of Family Medicine stated, "Participatory research is a way to involve Dayton citizens in research projects from the beginning, leading more people toward obtaining the benefits of good research."
Cecelia Ann Smith, a community health research advocate, is the newest staff member of the Department of Family Medicine. One of Ms. Smith's responsibilities is to help demystify research so that more people in the Dayton community become comfortable in the design, consciousness raising, documentation, and implementation of health research issues.
The community leaders and medical school faculty worked in small groups identifying the greatest areas of needs in Dayton. These priorities are in listed in descending order of importance:
- Access to Health Care. Dayton citizens are hampered by a number of barriers, including language and cultural, financial, and limited hours of operation for most neighborhood clinics. Additionally, the group identified the specific difficulties among Dayton immigrant populations as they try to access needed, and often basic, health care services.
- Cultural and Trust Issues. The group addressed issues surrounding language, trust, and cultural differences that sometimes interfere in the doctor-patient relationship and result in patients dropping out of the system and health care providers feeling frustrated with what appears to be non-compliance.
- Medical Literacy Issues. Medical literacy is a term used to describe the extent to which people understand the health care system and the recommendations physicians give patients about needed changes in behavior, medications, surgery, and procedures.
- Lifestyle Issues. Barriers, such as few sidewalks or safe areas for walking, exist that keep people from making healthy lifestyle choices. Other lifestyle/health issues included obesity, sedentary lifestyles, tobacco use, and substance abuse.
- Depression and Mental Health Issues. Gaining access to mental health services remains a serious problem in the Dayton community.
- Financial Needs. Too many good programs in the Dayton area have been shelved or deleted because of lack of funding.
- Pharmacy Issues. The group consensus was that people need help in managing the paperwork associated with obtaining public assistance for prescription medicine.
The Center for Healthy Communities is a community-academic partnership committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the community, educating its health professionals, and serving as a force for change. The Center began in 1991, as a partnership between the Dayton community, Sinclair Community College, and Wright State University and became a formal organization in 1994. Housed in the Wright State University School of Medicine Department of Community Health, CHC is funded by direct and in-kind support provided by community and academic partners, American Heart Association, Area Health Education Center, the Corporation for National Services, and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The Alliance for Research in Community Health, or ARCH, is a 501(c) 6 not-for-profit research and education unit within the Wright State University Department of Family Medicine. It serves as a scholarly and research arm of both the Department of Family Medicine and the Center for Healthy Communities. Begun in 1998, it is funded by a grant provided by the Health Resources Service Administration.