Closing the Gap

Despite the great strides made in disease prevention and treatment, public health challenges remain and significant racial and ethnic disparities persist. HFHS has pooled resources and expertise from a multidisciplinary team of outstanding individuals to address such disparities and includes this research domain in almost all projects.

The HFHS Health Disparities Research Collaborative sits in the Department of Public Health Sciences and is led by Dr. Christine Joseph.  HDRC provides a mechanism for the support and collaboration of investigators working to understand racial and ethnic health disparities by offering a platform for the support and collaboration of Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) investigators working to understand racial and ethnic health disparities.  HDRC is committed to training the next generation of researchers who can make a significant impact on improving the health status of individuals in underserved and vulnerable populations.  

Examples of such research projects include Dr. Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow’s Childhood Health Disparities: Exploration of Prenatal Exposures in Primary Teeth, which explores pre- and post-natal metal levels in naturally shed primary teeth together with birth weight and allergic disease measures. Information gained may lead to earlier identification and treatment of high-risk children. Additionally, Dr. Christine Joseph’s research on disease management technology-based interventions for high risk youth help to target African American adolescents aged 15-19 years because death rates in this group for asthma are higher for than for White adolescents and for younger children.  These intervention have now been implemented in non-traditional settings, the emergency department and primary care clinics.

Focus on the Rainbow, a project funded by PCORI, has the long-term goal of sustained engagement of sexual and gender minority youth, supportive family members, and the stakeholders who work with them in the design and implementation of comparative effectiveness research in Detroit, Michigan.  Sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth have specific needs that the healthcare community is only beginning to understand. Research has shown correlations between SGM status and depression, suicide attempts, bullying, illicit drug use, and increased rates of HIV, yet we have little understanding of how to best deliver patient-centered healthcare services to this vulnerable population.


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