Background: In general, males experience more sickness and die younger than women, with African American males faring worse than Whites in overall health outcomes. Both urban and rural Oklahoma residents suffer from some of the worst health outcomes in the US. According to the 2020 Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan (2020OHIP), the adult obesity prevalence in Oklahoma is 32.5%, which is the seventh highest in the nation. The obesity prevalence for Blacks in Oklahoma is estimated at 45%. More Black Oklahomans also die of diabetes and heart disease than White Oklahomans with men at a greater risk than women overall.
Recently, the project team conducted a culturally sensitive program designed together with community stakeholders and participants promoting healthy lifestyle changes for African American residents of Oklahoma who were pre-diabetic or diabetic, had high cholesterol, and/or were obese. 100% of participants in this “Road to Health” program were woman. Yet men have proportionally greater rates of obesity, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and heart attack than women. The success of this program poses a question: Can the project team deepen their existing communications infrastructure, expand into additional dissemination channels, and identify emerging organizations and influencers to effectively deliver messages to African American males, and can they do so with a virtual effort?
Proposed Solution to the Problem: To help address these health challenges, the project team will develop a community capacity building effort that will establish a network of trusted messengers—both organizational and individual—to form communication channels to incorporate and promote the uptake of health messaging and later programs developed for Black males that will ultimately result in positive health changes.
As the primary facilitator of the Healthy Hopeful Community Collaborative (HHCC), an organization of community leaders working to create positive change within the state, Lynn Institute leadership and staff understand successful capacity building efforts are constructed not for, but with, community stakeholders who are active program architects, participants, and change agents.
Activities: To develop this active and dynamic community peer-focused network, the project team will:
- Utilize the results of a comprehensive zip code analysis of health outcomes within the three identified zip codes populated primarily by African American residents that historically reflect significantly poor health outcomes
- Build and expand stakeholder partnerships between community organizations and Black male community stakeholders to disseminate relevant, meaningful health communications derived from patient-centered outcomes research/comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER)
- Identify evidence-based strategies and the most effective approaches in community capacity-building efforts specific to engaging Black males in health messaging
Objectives: This two-year project will deepen the Lynn Institute’s existing HHCC community outreach efforts with both existing and new stakeholders to further strengthen dissemination capacity and reach. This group will function as the trusted messengers, as they are the organizations and individuals who are in the community and understand stakeholder needs as well as the most effective methods and channels of communication.
Proposed Outcomes and Outputs:
Short Term outcomes during the project period include:
- Increase capacity among Black male community stakeholders to engage as partners of positive health communications resulting in demonstrable change
- Identify Black male PCOR/CER priorities based on community stakeholder input
- Expand community capacity through the integration of new, locally based partner organizations into the HHCC
- Deepen the existing HHCC collaborative relationships through incentivizing participation and maximizing community reach through sharing of resources
- Establish a peer infrastructure based on community feedback, including the identification of non-traditional peer influencers
Intermediate Term (0-2 years post-project completion) include:
- Design and implement a three-year sustainability plan —informed by both organizations and community members—to be undertaken by the HHCC
- Execute a dissemination proof-of-concept pilot that will demonstrate the efficacy of both the messaging and the medium for communications
- Design a tool kit that will provide other communities and organizations a capacity development roadmap as well as a portfolio of proven messaging templates ready for customization and implementation
Long Term outcomes (3+ years post-project period include:
- Establish additional, peer-based networks utilizing demographic-specific approaches and community partners
- Create a turn-key network strategy that can be utilized to continue to expand outreach to the identified Black male community in additional Oklahoma zip code areas
- Develop work plans that will serve as templates to develop similar culturally sensitive network projects in other demographic populations, such as Latinos and Native Americans, in need of support for advancing health awareness, skills and optimized health outcomes
Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: Lynn Institute has supported an active community leaders’ network, the HHCC in Oklahoma City, for several years. This existing network will be leveraged as a core component from which to build additional relationships with community organizations, particularly peer-to-peer organizations that serve Black men in the identified zip code areas and Trusted Messengers within that community. Community representatives of these organizations and leaders will become an integral and active part of the project’s leadership, advisory board, implementation and assessment phases of the project.
A series of Community Listening sessions that will focus on Black male residents that reside in the identified community and zip codes for network implementation and Lynn Institute project staff will work in collaboration with the program community advisory board members to identify evidence-based strategies and the most effective approaches in community capacity-building efforts specific to engaging Black male health messaging.
All interactions will be conducted utilizing virtual platforms.