When discussing economic disparities, urban centers often come to mind, and rightfully so, as a greater concentration of people tends to yield more socioeconomic disparities. Cities typically have more resources to help those in need, like food banks and shelters, but hunger, poverty, and health disparities don’t know state lines and city borders.

In the Midwest, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, has started a new research program, the Center for Poverty and Health Disparities, concerned with reducing health disparities in the state as well as the nation.

Along with the Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana Minority Health Coalition, and Northwest Indiana Health Disparities Initiative, the new center will study the factors contributing to health disparities and will seek partnerships to eliminate those inequalities. 

One of the Center’s first initiatives will be to tackle the high rate of heart disease among African Americans. Center representatives say they are working with community groups in Gary and Indianapolis on culturally informed strategies.

Several other research projects are already underway, in addition to the African American-centered heart disease study. Researchers are also looking at patient-physician communication modes and outcomes, as well as the health care delivery process in general and how to improve access for the underserved. Another Center project focuses on improving the lives of those who use food banks.

The Center for Poverty and Health Disparities will be staffed by a number of Purdue professors, and those currently involved bring experience in health care communications, educational studies, health and kinesiology, and African American studies.

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