NCRG Conference: Healthstreet – An Innovative Strategy For Involving The Under-served In Research On Gambling &Amp; Other Disorders

Sunday’s third general session at the11th annual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addictionfocused on an innovative approach to connecting health care providers and researchers with people in under-served communities.

Linda Cottler, Ph.D., professor of of epidemiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, presented “HealthStreet: An Innovative Strategy for Involving Under-served Populations in Research on Gambling and Other Disorders.” The HealthStreet program, which began in the 1990s as an HIV treatment program housed in a rundown movie theater, has expanded to collect data on dozens of health measures, while connecting people to health resources and research studies in every corner of St. Louis.

Dr. Cottler described HealthStreet’s innovative methods for connecting people in traditionally marginalized communities to health services to which they might not otherwise have access. The majority of this work is done by HealthStreet’s community health workers, who travel throughout the city to sites like grocery stores, churches and coffee shops to provide health related counseling to people who might not go to a health clinic on their own. By combining this health data with geographical data, the HealthStreet team is able to map health markers throughout the city, allowing researchers and treatment providers to see how illnesses are spread throughout the city and target treatments to the areas where they are most needed.

Dr. Cottler also discussed her team’s process for screening 2,854 community members for participation in health-related studies in areas such as public health, internal medicine and psychiatry. She explained that making clinical trials like these available to a broader audience is a mutually beneficial step forward because researchers can test their treatments on the populations who need them the most, while trial participants get access to cutting-edge therapies which might not be available to them otherwise. Dr. Cottler suggested that the network of community research participants they are building will allow her team and other researchers to more easily study representative community samples and produce effective clinical treatments more quickly and efficiently than was previously possible.

For more information about the HealthStreet program please visit theHealthStreet website.As always we welcome your thoughts and question in the comments section below.

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