Health Equity: Reducing Disparities in Underserved Populations

Objectives of the Center for Public Service Communications (CPSC) include:

  • Improving quality of and access to health information that meets needs of minority, underserved and disenfranchised individuals and communities
  • Developing and elaborating new methods for the collection, management and electronic interchange of information on health disparities
  • Developing programs and strategies to strengthen the capacity of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions and Tribal Colleges and Universities to health information to reduce disparities and improve the health of their communities
  • Improving the quality, quantity and access to linguistically & culturally appropriate health materials by health professionals and consumers

Highlights of CPSC Experience

HealthReach

HealthReach is a national collaborative partnership, managed by the national Library of Medicine and coordinated by CPSC, that has created a resource of quality multilingual, multicultural public health information for those working with or providing care to individuals with limited English proficiency. Resources include:

  • Health education materials in various languages and formats (brochures, handouts, audio recordings, and videos).
  • Provider information (reports, toolkits, and fact sheets).

Special collections on women’s health, substance abuse, and mental health.HealthReach offers easy access to quality health information in many languages that healthcare providers can share with LEP individuals. HealthReach is also an important resource for health professionals and public health administrators seeking best practices and population-specific tools, such as cultural backgrounders and tips for effective use of interpreters.

HealthReach grew out of the Refugee Health Information Network (RHIN) when it became apparent that the information resources in the database are useful to all new Americans and those who have limited English proficiency. RHIN was founded by the Center for Public Service Communications.  For a summary of the RHIN program, please read History of RHIN.

Mapping the Health of Communities

While access to quality health information is frequently a focus of attention in efforts to reduce health disparities in underserved communities, the ability to visualize spatial data and information has received less attention. This is in part because the historic scarcity of affordable and intuitive data collection and mapping applications. Additionally, the cost to train users, and sustain operations, has been prohibitive for communities and community-based organizations whose health budgets are already strained. This recognition has prompted the Center for Public Service Communications and its partner Bird’s Eye View, together with the National Library of Medicine (NLM), to develop the Community Health Maps (CHM) initiative.

CHM’s premise is that community-based minority health organizations, environmental health advocacy groups, as well as public health agencies are in a better position to serve their populations when they are able to collect and maintain their own data, rather than relying solely on national or state agencies, or majority-institution partners to provide data to them. CHM has dedicated a number of resources and trainings to train students, teachers, community members, and researchers to empower and utilize these resources.

The CHM approach involves using relatively low cost tablets and smartphone platforms, combined with a selection of low/no-cost applications that run on them for data collection. Data can then be analyzed and presented using low cost/open source software. These tools allow expert and novice users, with little budget resource, to implement mapping workflows. Introducing such workflows to community-based and minority public health professionals empowers users to collect, analyze, display and share their own spatial data. Importantly, many of these tools can also be used to share data collected using other programs, such as ESRI’s ArcGIS and national/state- derived databases such as CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and Public Use Data files from National Center for Health Statistics.

For additional background about this initiative visit: https://communityhealthmaps.nlm.nih.gov/?s=John+Scott or contact CPSC's John Scott at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Engaging Indigenous Peoples in Disaster Risk Reduction

Coordinator for Indigenous session at the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction Global Platform, Geneva, May 2013 designed to promote discussion of risk reduction among indigenous and non-indigenous community leaders. Authored White Paper on same issue for the 2013 session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Working with the Pan American Health Organization to convene Hemispheric Consultation on Disaster Risk Reduction 2013.

Improving Health Care in Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Communities

Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians President’s Task Force on Health Information and Technology; goal to improve access to health information in Indian Country and Native communities (2002-2007)

Improving Environmental Health Programs in Minority Health Institutions

Advisor and consultant to the National Library of Medicine-sponsored Environmental Health Information Outreach Partnership (EnHIOP), whose focus is to improve environmental health programs, reduce health disparities and improve the biomedical, bioinformatics, and information technology capabilities in minority health institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

World Health Organization Worldwide HINARI Assessment (12 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas)

Principal Investigator for HINARI program offering free access to full text online versions of 2,500 plus leading biomedical and healthcare journals to research and academic institutions, medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy schools, national governmental ministries, departments and policy units in 104 of the world's poorest countries.

Role of Libraries in HIV/AIDS Prevention (Cameroon, Africa)

Conducted assessment, on behalf of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, on the role of libraries in disseminating HIV/AIDS prevention information in Cameroon (as a model for other countries in Africa)

Symposium on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Health Information for Refugees and Immigrants 

Convener/chair, Symposium on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Health Information for Refugees and Immigrants, Co-sponsored by the DHHS Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Global Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and hosted by National Library of Medicine (July 2003)

Assessment of Telehealth Capabilities of Minority Health Professions Schools

Principle Investigator for assessment of health applications of telecommunications and information technology within/among minority health professions schools and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (separate studies), funded by National Library of Medicine and the Office of Minority Health (1998).

Improving Medical Screening for Migrants and Refugees (2000-2001)

Project Implementation Manager for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Georgetown University initiative to improve medical screening for refugees, reduce public health impact of migration-associated tuberculosis in the US and assist and improve global TB control efforts

Benefits of Telehealth for Underserved Populations: Barriers and Opportunities

Convener and chair of symposium, funded by a grant from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the Agency for Health Care and Policy Research, involving leaders of national advocacy groups for minorities and other underserved groups and government, academia, and private sector to discuss benefits and challenges of using new information technology tools to access health information and services for children and the elderly, minorities, inner city and rural poor, and persons with disabilities.

Africa Malaria Research Information Network

Consultant to National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine and Multilateral Initiative on Malaria with the objective to improve the ability of malaria scientists to conduct and share scientific research throughout Africa

Center for Public Service Communications
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Claiborne, MD 21624 USA
Phone: 703-307-3260   Fax: 703-782-1620   Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.