Health disparities

News

Black mother holding a young baby on her shoulder

Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Examined

February 16, 2017

An article in The Nation, "What’s Killing America’s Black Infants?" provides a sobering analysis of the disproportionately high death rate among African-American babies. Despite decades of interventions and public health initiatives, the racial infant mortality gap actually grew during the 1980s and 90s: during that time, "Black women who received prenatal care starting in the first trimester were still losing children at higher rates than white women who never saw a doctor during their pregnancies." This led to research into whether black women have a genetic predisposition to poor birth outcomes, which was largely disproven. However, more recently, "a growing body of evidence points to racial discrimination, rather than race itself, as the dominant factor in explaining why so many black babies are dying." The article profiles efforts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has one of the worst infant-mortality rates of all US cities, to reverse the trend.

News

Nurse taking man's hearbeat with stethoscope

Health Disparities Training and Funding Opportunities

October 28, 2016

Prof. Kola Okuyemi, MD, MPH, has been awarded a $1.5M grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to educate researchers about reducing cancer-related health disparities among underserved populations. Prof. Okuyemi, Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research, says these trainings are designed to "prepare predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct cancer-related health disparities intervention research." In related news, the Center for Healthy African American Men through Partnerships (CHAAMPS), a joint program of the University of Minnesota and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), has announced two funding opportunities: Pilot Projects (4-6 grants available to faculty from Minnesota, UAB, Johns Hopkins University, MD Anderson Cancer Center and UC Davis) and the Scholars Disparities Program (2-4 grants available to grad students, post-docs, medical residents, medical fellows and faculty at the same institutions). To learn more about deadlines, etc., click on the links above or contact Laurel Nightingale, MPH, MPP, CHAAMPS Collaborations Coordinator, at nigh0021@umn.edu.

News

Red and blue abstract people figures with magnifying glass

Consortium Chair, 3 Colleagues Awarded Grand Challenges Research Grant

September 29, 2016

Consortium Chair Susan Wolf and three Co-Investigators – Profs. Pamala JacobsonKingshuk Sinha, and Ellen Demerath – on behalf of the Working Group on Advancing Health Through Tailored Solutions, have been awarded a Grand Challenges grant from the Office of the Provost to establish the Minnesota Precision Medicine Collaborative (MPMC). This 2-year, $500,000 grant will fund creation of a transformative University-wide initiative to use 21st century technologies – including genomics, informatics, bioengineering, analysis of environmental exposures, and behavioral sciences – to tailor health care to the challenges facing individuals and their communities. This precision medicine approach will fundamentally alter our understanding of health, disease prevention, and treatment. Core to this project is partnering with citizens, patients, and healthcare providers to understand and effectively address major health problems. MPMC will create a living laboratory, starting with demonstration projects on Alzheimer’s disease, lung cancer, and depression. All three are diseases whose incidence, burden, and mortality rates reveal disturbing health disparities. This focus will enable us to leverage U of M research strengths across many disciplines and to engage with partners in the health industry and Minnesota’s underserved communities. By investing in the development and delivery of precision medicine, our university will contribute to the national effort to transform science, medicine, and public health through more precise understanding of the factors contributing to health and disease. MPMC aims to make a unique contribution through collaborative research, cutting-edge innovation, responsible policy, and sustained commitment to improving health equitably across our communities.    

News

Doctor in patient's room with clipboard

Public Invited to Weigh in on Toughest Medical Ethics Decisions

August 24, 2016

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, health care providers at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans faced a grim choice: in the midst of a crisis, who among their patients should be evacuated to better conditions? For many in the general public, news coverage (and later a book) about what happened at Memorial was the first time they truly became aware of medical rationing. The first article in a new collaboration between the New York Times and Radio Lab, "Playing God," describes an unusual public debate on the subject being led by Dr. Lee Daugherty Biddison and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Daugherty Biddison is leading a task force that will "make recommendations for [Maryland] state officials that could serve as a national model." She and her team are holding a series of public forums to hear opinions from laypeople on topics like: should a doctor be able to remove one person from a ventilator to give it to another with a better chance of surviving? During cancer drug shortages, how should doctors choose which patients receive them? Should such decisions be randomized, through a lottery, or based on a patient's age or likelihood of survival? Renowned bioethicist Ruth Faden of Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics praised the effort, noting “It’s a novel and important attempt to turn extremely complicated core ethical considerations into something people can make sense of and struggle with in ordinary language.”

News

African American soldier in Vietnam -era uniform

The Hidden Social Costs of an Unequal Military

August 19, 2016

A new paper by Douglas L. Kriner of Boston University and Francis X. Shen, a Consortium affilate faculty member and professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, takes an empirical look at the results of socioeconomic disparities in military service. In "Invisible Inequality: The Two Americas of Military Sacrifice," the authors analyze large existing data sets, including 500,000 American combat casualties over the past 70 years, which reveal that "today, unlike in World War II, the Americans who die or are wounded in war are disproportionately coming from poorer parts of the country." The authors also conducted original surveys of public opinion "to uncover a variety of social, legal, and political consequences of this inequality" and why it is "routinely overlooked by scholars, policymakers, and the public." Read a PDF of the article here.

News

Arrest disparities in the Twin Cities map

U Professors Shine a Spotlight on Racial Disparities

July 21, 2016

In the wake of another fatal police shooting of an African-American man, Philando Castile, who was killed during a traffic stop in a Twin Cities suburb, there's been an increased focus on racial inequities in Minnesota. One of the scholars with the longest history of studying these issues, Myron Orfield, JD, is on the faculty of the University of Minnesota's Law School; since Castile's death, Orfield has been widely interviewed discussing housing segregation, unequal policy enforcement, and other aspects of the state's institutionalized racism. Minnesota suffers from a yawning academic achievement gap between white students and students of color; the worst record of financial inequity in the nation; and a serious problem with socioeconomic and health disparities. A recent lecture hosted by the Consortium, by Prof. Sidney Watson, JD (University of St. Louis Law School) describes tools in the Affordable Care Act to increase health justice; that talk can be viewed online

News

Graphic on elements of CBPR

Course on Community-based Participatory Research Announced

April 15, 2016

Starting Sept. 12, a course in Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) will be offered to graduate students and community practitioners who want to know more about this powerful approach to understanding and addressing health and social disparities. Each Monday from 4-6, the class will explore the purpose and applications of CBPR; partnership formation and maintenance; issues of power, race, class, and social justice; conflict resolution; ethical issues; and CBPR's relationship to cultural and community knowledge systems. Please note this course can either be taken for academic credit (tuition costs apply) or for free by community practitioners seeking a certificate. 

News

brooke cunningham

Racial Gaps and Health Disparities in the News

April 11, 2016

University of Minnesota faculty members have been making headlines for their work addressing connections between race and health care disparities. An article in STAT profiles Prof. Brooke Cunningham, MD, PhD (Medical School), a physician and sociologist who recently taught first-year medical students about the dangers of misunderstanding the concept of race. In her lecture, Prof. Cunningham pointed out that race is not a fixed, scientific category, cautioning these future doctors to think critically about using racial characteristics in diagnosing and treating patients. Her lecture was part of a course taught by Prof. David Satin, MD (Medical School), whose recent scholarship on why black patients are sometimes undertreated for pain was profiled on PBS NewshourProf. Dorothy E. Roberts, JD (University of Pennsylvania) was also interviewed during the segment; her 2010 Deinard Memorial Lecture on Law & Medicine, "What's Wrong with Race-Based Medicine," can be viewed here.  

News

Kathleen Call

Health Insurance Complexity Demands Consumer Literacy

January 1, 2016

As we move through the health insurance enrollment season, parsing terms like "coinsurance" and an alphabet soup of acronyms (FSA, HSA, HRA, HDHP) can present real obstacles to making informed decisions. An article from National Public Radio (NPR) provides some comfort for the bewildered, noting that even those who work in health care fields struggle with the terminology. Kathleen Call, a professor in the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, notes: "We've created a monster, and it's not surprising to me that there's literacy issues. I've studied this stuff, and sometimes I make mistakes." Among Call's areas of study is the way complexity compromises public health and increases health disparities. Luckily, the article includes a graphic that explains the terms that most frequently cause confusion; you can view it here

News

Dr. Amos Deinard

Amos Deinard Honored for Contributions to Public Health Dentistry

November 20, 2015

Dr. Amos Deinard, Jr., a pediatrician on the faculty of the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, was recently honored with a lifetime achievement award from the American Public Health Association – in dentistry. Dr. Deinard is the first non-oral health practitioner to ever receive this award. In the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Deinard is quoted as saying, "I want to see the goal met of every Minnesota child getting oral health care from his or her primary provider, no matter what their financial situation," noting that "doctors and dentists must work together." Deinard is one of three funders for the Consortium's annual Deinard Memorial Lecture on Law & Medicine; fittingly, this year's topic is how to reduce health disparities. To learn more and register, click here.  

Lecture

Conference

News

Sign outside of hospital emergency room

Consortium Grant Supports High Utilizers Study

May 7, 2015

A group of University of Minnesota graduate students in law and health is conducting a study of high-frequency healthcare utilizers with funds obtained through the Consortium's Research Awards program. The grant is "Twin Cities High Utilizers: A Patient-Centered Approach to Address the High Cost of Health Care" and the work is being conducted by UMN Hotspotters, who are utilizing a methodology originally developed by Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, MD (interviewed here on Freakonomics Radio) of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers (CCHP). The ultimate goal of hotspotting is to identify patients for whom socioeconomic factors are causing overuse of emergency rooms, rather than more effective and less expensive healthcare options. An article in today's Minnesota Daily describes the UMN Hotspotters pilot study and their plans to expand upon it. 

Research

JLME Summer 2007

Genetics & Disability Insurance: Ethics, Law & Policy

This grant was awarded to the Center for Bioethics and Joint Degree Program in Law, Health & the Life Sciences to complete a comprehensive investigation of the ethical, legal, and policy issues in the use of genetic information in private and public disability insurance and to recommend policies based on the findings.

Research

JLME Fall 2006

Colliding Categories: Haplotypes, Race & Ethnicity

This project explored the impending collision between biological and regulatory classifications of population subgroups in American society. Researchers focused on the interaction between biological categories emerging from the effort to create a haplotype map of the human genome and preexisting categories specifying race and ethnicity embodied in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's Directive 15, which governs collection of data by all federal agencies and in federally funded research.

Conference

Lecture