Beyond the Cathedral: Building Trust to Engage the African American Community in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Effective efforts to eliminate health disparities must be grounded in strong community partnerships and trusting relationships between academic institutions and minority communities. However, there are often barriers to such efforts, including the frequent need to rely on time-limited funding mechanisms that take categorical approaches. This article provides an overview of health promotion and disease prevention projects implemented through the Community Outreach and Information Dissemination Core (COID) of the Center for Minority Health, within the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. The COID is one of five Cores that comprised the University of Pittsburgh's NIH Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, and Research on Disparities in Health and Training (EXPORT Health) funded from 2002 to 2007 by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Based in large part on the success of the community engagement activities, in 2007, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health, designated the CMH as a Research Center of Excellence on Minority Health Disparities. COID major initiatives included the Community Research Advisory Board, Health Disparity Working Groups, Health Advocates in Reach, Healthy Class of 2010, and the Healthy Black Family Project. Lessons learned may provide guidance to other academic institutions, community-based organizations, and health departments who seek to engage minority communities in changing social norms to support health promotion and disease prevention.