Friday, November 17, 2006
New program will provide education, training and support for health disparities research
The University of Maryland School of Medicine has created a Program in Minority Health and Health Disparities Education and Research (PMHHD). The goal of the program is to educate current and future health professionals about issues related to health disparities, to support relevant multidisciplinary research and to foster quality clinical care for minorities and diverse populations.
Donald E. Wilson, M.D., M.A.C.P., dean emeritus of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, will direct the new program. The PMHHD will provide a curriculum for medical students and health care trainees to promote the importance of cultural and ethnic differences in providing quality health care. It will also provide a rigorous scientific research approach to the identification, investigation and elimination of minority health disparities.
“Disparities in health care affect the use of quality preventive and medical services, morbidity and mortality, clinical trial participation, risk behaviors, patient satisfaction with the health care system and quality of life within the United States,” says Dr. Wilson, who is also a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The new program will focus on three core areas: education, research and clinical outcomes. It will implement a disparities curriculum at the University of Maryland School of Medicine for medical students and health care trainees and provide faculty development, training and continuing medical education. It will also develop tools to systematically define, measure, and assess health disparities, develop prevention and intervention strategies for delaying the onset or progression of diseases, develop new and improved screening and diagnostic modalities and therapeutic approaches, and advance the understanding of etiologic and progressive factors of diseases where disparities exist in vulnerable populations. The anticipated impact on clinical outcomes will be the prevention of bias in clinical care and the elimination of treatment disparities.
According to Dr. Wilson, the University of Maryland School of Medicine is uniquely qualified to create a minority health program because of its long-standing national reputation and commitment to quality medical education, clinical care and research. “With a formalized curriculum on health disparities, we will be able to educate and train students, faculty and community health care professionals on minority health and health disparities and foster research that defines, measures and assesses health disparities,” he says.
The new program will include the existing Center for Health Disparities, which was created to identify specific disparities and collaborate with local communities to find appropriate ways to eliminate them.
“The greatly expanded scope of the research agenda for the new program and the inter-disciplinary nature of health disparities research necessitated expansion of the structure of the Center for Health Disparities,” says Dr. Wilson.
The center’s director, Claudia Baquet, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and associate dean for policy and planning at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, will serve as deputy director of the Program in Minority Health and Health Disparities Education and Research.
“The overall goal of the new program is to foster the highest quality education and research on minority health and health disparities through a formalized curriculum, which ultimately leads to improved clinical outcomes and reduction or elimination in disparities,” says Dr. Baquet.