Project Summary

African Americans with serious mental illness experience significant health disparities, including increased risk of physical illness and early death. Although African Americans with serious mental illness have important insight into ways to address these disparities and engage their peers in the research process, this group has historically been excluded from providing meaningful input on research projects designed to reduce these disparities.

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is one strategy to engage African Americans with serious mental illness in the research process. Previous work in Chicago to engage this population in CBPR identified a desire for African-American patients with mental illness to lead research projects. However, findings from pilot projects also revealed distinct barriers to full patient participation as research project leaders. The proposed project will develop a leadership training curriculum and organizational support plan to better prepare and retain patient research leaders to work on CBPR projects.

An advisory board will develop a network of interested agencies that serve African Americans with serious mental illness and promote CBPR. The advisory board will then develop the leadership curriculum and support plan, conduct leadership training with potential patient research leaders, and provide funding and support for two local CBPR projects. The advisory board will also evaluate and revise the leadership training based on feedback from the program participants. The organization support manual and leadership curriculum resulting from this project will be disseminated throughout the Chicago area through the Inspiring Change network.

Patients and stakeholders will be engaged through the advisory board, leadership trainings, and through the two CBPR teams. Local integrated healthcare agencies, including Trilogy, Thresholds, and Heartland Health Outreach will participate in the Inspiring Change network and refer potential patient leaders for training. Inspiring Change network organizations will work with their trained patient research leaders to apply for funded CBPR projects that address health disparities for African Americans with serious mental illness.

Project Information

Lindsay Sheehan, PhD
Sonya Ballentine, BS, and Patrick Corrigan, PsyD, MA
Illinois Institute of Technology

Key Dates

24 months


Project Status
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: February 2, 2023