African Americans with serious mental illness have co-occurring physical illnesses that can shorten their lives or contribute to disability. These challenges are even more pronounced for African Americans with serious mental illness who are involved with the criminal justice system. However, this is a disenfranchised population that has seldom had a voice in research.
The project team’s proposed solution will recruit and train African-American patients with serious mental illness and incarceration history to be part of a community-based participatory research coalition to prioritize a post-incarceration health research agenda. The coalition will be implemented at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago Health Disparities Center (CDHC), and also involve researchers and healthcare representatives. Importantly, the coalition will be co-led by a patient who will be mentored throughout the project. The aims of the project are to train and engage a 15-member coalition of patients, researchers, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders with the task of establishing a research agenda for post-incarceration health in African Americans with serious mental illness. The secondary objective is to develop capacity for conducting the research priorities that are identified. The coalition will recruit an additional 50-70 patients and stakeholders to participate in a three-stage Delphi panel. The panel will come to a consensus about patient-centered health outcomes for this population and a list of comparative effectiveness research priorities. The priorities will be disseminated through the Inspiring Change conference at CHDC and implemented through community partnerships. This project will produce a research agenda and working groups who are prepared to initiate research in line with the agenda. The project will produce a cadre of trained patient research partners who can bring their lived experience to future projects. Patients are involved as co-PIs on the project and will co-lead all meetings, seminars, and conferences. Patients and stakeholders comprise the coalition, Delphi panel, and the conference participants who make all decisions about the project. Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare and Safer Foundation are core members of the coalition and will have liaisons to the project. The liaisons will help with formation of the coalition, conduct of the project, and dissemination efforts.