Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Clinical Research Training in CAM for Minorities at an HBCU

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Clinical Research Training in CAM for Minorities at an HBCU

Article excerpt

Abstract

Morgan State University (MSU) is one of two universities nationwide (the other being Florida International University) which have been awarded Institutional Research Training (T-32) grants by the NIH--National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to train minority researchers and practitioners approaches for conducting scientific research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Morgan State aims to establish a Center for Research Training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CRTCAM) at the University. To accomplish this MSU is teaming with Johns Hopkins University and the Traditional Acupuncture Institute--School of Philosophy and Healing In Action (TAI-SOPHIA) Institute in Columbia, Maryland. Our overall goal is to recruit individuals from underrepresented minority population groups and train them in the performance of high quality research to better answer fundamental and clinical questions regarding the practice and utilization, as well as the safety and efficacy of CAM in the United States.

Background

Compelling evidence indicates that racial and ethnic minorities suffer from increasing disparities in the incidence, prevalence, mortality and morbidity of diseases. These disparities include shorter overall life expectancy, higher rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, infant mortality, birth defects, asthma, diabetes, stroke, sexually transmitted diseases, and mental disorders, etc. (NIH, 2000b). Nationally, more and more Americans--as many as 42 percent according to one recent estimate--are using Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) approaches for their health care needs. Between 1990 and 1997, the number of Americans using CAM increased by 38 percent from 60 million to 83 million. (NIH, 2000c) But, good systematic data on CAM use among racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. was lacking (Eisenberg, 1993; NIH, 2000c). Results of a study by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the trade association that represents U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicine and dietary supplements, show that 59 percent of Americans are more likely to treat their own health conditions than they were a year ago. Also, 73 percent would rather treat themselves at home than see a physician. African Americans and Hispanic Americans showed the highest level of interest in becoming more familiar with alternative medicines in the future, and were over-sampled in the study to insure that findings for these two groups were projectable (Consumer Healthcare Products Association, 2001).

Today, African-, Hispanic-, and Native-American physicians are a crucial source of care for the nation's underserved communities (AAMC, 2001). With the current health disparities, and the projection that racial and ethnic minorities will increase nationally from 28 percent in 1998 to nearly 40 percent in 2030, (NIH, 2000b), there is a serious need for more racial and ethnic minorities in the health professions. A related concern is that racial and ethnic groups make up about 25 percent of the U.S. population, but only about 10 percent of health professionals (DHHS, 2000). In 1994, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) called for vigorous efforts to increase the ethnic and racial diversity in health professions (Lewin, 1994). In its recent report on health disparities in America, the Institute of Medicine restated its call for increases in the number of racial and ethnic minorities in various health care professions (IOM, 2002).

To effectively address the broad range of various diseases that affect Americans, there is a need for more minority scientists in biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and health services research (U.S. Senate, 2000). This cadre of researchers must include a diverse community of "alternative medicine" researchers as well. Unfortunately, there are often limited opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities to receive training in CAM research due to a lack of resources at their home institutions, a lack of opportunities to develop the research skills via both didactic training and interactions with a critical mass of CAM research scientists, and a lack of state-of-the-art technology relevant to CAM. …

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