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COMSEP 2008 Atlanta Meeting

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Addressing Health Disparities through Community-University Partnerships

Stacey Brown, Judy Lewis, Patricia Joyce and Anton Alerte
University of Connecticut School of Medicine

OBJECTIVES: This poster demonstrates the importance and viability of university-community partnerships in developing and implementing activities directed at eliminating health disparities.
BACKGROUND: Global disparities in health care access and outcomes have been well documented. Multiple approaches have been proposed; medical education and community collaboration are one solution. The University of Connecticut School of Medicine (UCSOM), in collaboration with community partners, is committed to cross cultural skills development, with a focus on those related to gender, race, ethnicity, disabilities, sexual orientation, literacy, and effective communication. Teaching methodologies are varied and integrated across the 4 years of medical education.
METHODS: UCSCOM conducted focus groups with community partners, faculty and students. This research resulted in new curricula which include: (1) communities and health orientation, (2) tour of the local community, (3) diversification of patient panels, (4) programs on local ethnic groups, (5) skills for working with interpreters, (6) a seminar on the interconnections of culture, biology and the environment and (7) a field experience with the Department of Children and Families.
RESULTS: Evaluations for each of the proposed new curricula have been positive. To illustrate, consider the following: 82% of students find the community orientation and tour useful and relevant; 95% of students positively evaluate the content and presentation of community panels; 90% of students find the interpretation cases valuable and 93% positively rank the DCF visits. CONCLUSION: Community-university collaboration provides an important means of developing cross cultural curricula and skills to address health disparities. Health professions education that is skills based and developed with communities is an effective method of addressing access to health care and health disparities.