Community Science: Using Data and Community Engagement to Highlight Health Disparities

By Leah Duncan

This past spring, SCOPE was one of two organizations in the nation selected to receive a grant from Maryland-based research and development group Community Science. Through this grant, SCOPE is receiving monetary and technical support to test a framework for community collaboration around data access, sharing, and use. This framework relies on the idea that if community organizations like SCOPE know how to engage the right partners in the right ways, and know how to access health-related data, we can more effectively approach decision makers who have the power to impact health disparities in our communities. This project will focus primarily on secondary and administrative data, or data that is collected by organizations not necessarily with the intent of conducting research, rather than on data collected through primary research.

Earlier this week was the groundbreaking ceremony for the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System’s Internal Medicine Practice in Newtown. Through past research and community engagement conducted by groups like the Multicultural Health Institute and Genesis Health Services Inc., we know that Newtown residents are concerned about the health disparities they see in their community. There is hope that the opening of this health center will help to reduce these disparities, and SCOPE hopes to utilize the opportunity granted to us by the Community Science project to help ensure that there is a trusting relationship between Newtown residents and staff and decision-makers at the health center.

We have been engaging partners from the Newtown community, including the representative neighborhood associations, to help hold this data collaborative accountable to the real needs of the community. We will also be engaging partners who collect secondary and administrative data that demonstrates the disparities in physical health problems faced by the Newtown community, including cardiovascular and related health problems and sexual/reproductive health; as well as data on the social determinants of health, such as access to health care, healthy lifestyles, education, and economic stability.

SCOPE is very excited by the enthusiasm we have seen at our collaboration meetings, and we are grateful for the training and support offered by the Community Science team. If you would like to get involved with this project, please contact Leah at [email protected]