Community-Based Participatory Research

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a collaborative approach to developing replicable models for understanding health and disease determinants, and supporting mechanisms for promoting healthier lives for individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities. Using CBPR principles, the Community Medicine Unit has developed collaborative relationships based on trust for better understanding the true causes of disease and developing means for eliminating disease causality in communities of need.

Examples of this research are:

  • Promoting Physical Fitness, Nutrition Education, and Healthy Eating Through Service Learning Experiences (2015-Present)

Lumin Education is a system of charter schools within Dallas comprised of four campuses (East Dallas, Lindsley Park, Bachman Lake, and Wesley-Rankin) that serve approximately 603 children from birth to 3rd grade. Lumin utilizes a Montessori education philosophy with a strong emphasis on involving families and the community in the education of students. In 2015, to combat childhood obesity and promote healthy living among its students, Lumin Education partnered with UTSW Department of Family and Community Medicine (FM) to implement a nutrition and fitness program at their East Dallas campus. The implemented program was based off the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) curriculum, a series of lessons designed to increase awareness of healthy foods and increase physical activity in children. The project also created biannual health fairs and parental health education sessions for the families of Lumin East Dallas. Through this project, UTSW learners gain familiarity with the tools and standards used to assess fitness in children as well as effective strategies to teach children about healthy nutrition.  These topics are relevant to any future health care provider, especially one interested in primary care.

  • United to Serve, Health Awareness Project (2012-Present)

UT Southwestern’s Annual United to Serve (UTS) is a health fair in Dallas coordinated by students with the aid of faculty and staff of UT Southwestern Medical Center and provides free health screenings, education, and community resources information. A majority of the UTS participants are uninsured minorities who have limited access to health care services. Many of these participants use UTS as their annual checkup where they obtain personal medical information such as their blood glucose levels, blood pressures, and cholesterol levels. Health fairs are one of the most recognizable forms of community-based health promotion, but unfortunately, quality studies cannot be found which assess the effectiveness of health fairs. With the Health Awareness Program (HAP), which was created in 2012 to assess the effectiveness of this UTSW event, the aim is to provide an avenue for UTS attendees to establish a medical home by giving local health clinic information tailored to their respective home addresses.

  • Homelessness: Union Gospel Mission, Center of Hope Shelter for Women and Children (2009-Present) 

The Center of Hope (COH) provides shelter for approximately 1,800 women and children each year. About 30 percent of those sheltered are children under the age of 12. The typical length of stay is less than 90 days, while about 15-20 percent of the women join a long-term rehabilitation program that can extend their stay up to two years. The COH operates a small clinic that addresses acute illnesses for all of the residents. Children receive special attention through well child exams and vaccinations so that they may attend the day care located within the shelter. The most common problems encountered in this clinic are diabetes, hypertension, and infectious diseases.

Medical students and Family Medicine residents have the opportunity to experience health care in a homeless shelter for women and children, assist in locating resources for a homeless population, provide health promotion and disease prevention that addresses the needs of a homeless population, and connect homeless women and children to a medical home. Two projects conducted by students at the Center of Hope include: 1) Vaccinations for homeless and high-risk children via the Center of Hope and 2) a needs assessment.