News and Events

Current Projects

Workforce Development Grants

Advancing Health to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 Grant

  • This program is supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health/Office of Minority Health of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $3,614,521 with 100% funded by the OASH/OMH/HHS. The Office of Health Literacy has a sub-contract with the City of Rockford Office of Health and Human Services and in partnership with CURA Strategies for a project to run from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2024. Dr. Paula Allen-Meares serves as a Co-PI for this project.
  • Members of our team who conduct the training for healthcare professionals and community outreach workers in Rockford include Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, Professor for the Department of Occupational Therapy from the College of Applied Health, Dr. Olga Garcia-Bedoya, a physician at UI health. Dr. Manorama Khare, a research professor on the Rockford campus is the member of my team who is tasked with evaluation for the project. We offer training on health literacy and cultural humility to health care professionals and community health workers who directly serve residents in Rockford.

U54 Chicago Center on Health Equity Research (CHER) Grant

  • This project is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) Grant. The original timeline was Sept 2017 – June 2021, but an Administrative Supplement was granted for July 2021 – June 2023. We have applied for a P50 grant to continue this work. Dr. Paula Allen-Meares serves as a Co-Investigator for this grant. Dr. Martha Daviglus, Executive Director of the UIC Institute for Minority Health Research (IMHR) serves as PI on this grant.
  • Dr. Allen-Meares serves on the Investigator Development Core of the U54 CHER grant. She is part of the IDC for this project that has worked on the development of a robust Lunch and Learn series to educate our early stage investigators. A recent presenter was Dr. Preeti Malani, Deputy Editor for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) who conducted a session on scientific communication.
  • The purpose of the center is to investigate how social structures and determinants contribute to the health of marginalized groups, and to work toward the elimination of structural violence through collaborative community partnerships, innovative research, and development and growth of researchers, including mentoring of Early Stage Investigators.

The Chicago CHW H.E.R.O. Project

  • This project is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and has a timeline of Aug 2022 – Aug 2025. The Office of Health Literacy is partnering with the PI Angela Ellison who is the Executive Director of UIC Office of Community Engagement and Neighborhood Health Partnerships (OCEAN-HP). Dr. Paula Allen-Meares serves as a PI on this grant.
  • In August 2022, the Office of Health Literacy secured a subaward for The Chicago CHW H.E.R.O. Project. We are working with Angela Ellison, Director of UIC OCEAN-HP and other partners to provide training for community health workers.
  • The faculty members who provide the training for community health care workers in Cook County include Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar and Dr. Carolyn Dickens, both experts in cultural humility and health literacy respectively.

COVID Built Environment Initiative for a COVID Cancer and Health Literacy Initiative

  • This project is funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Grant. The timeline is from Jan 2023 – May 2024. Dr. Paula Allen-Meares serves as Co-PI on this grant along with Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar.
  • We are working with the IDPH Comprehensive Cancer Control on a project to train community health workers throughout the state of Illinois on the topics of health literacy and cultural competence. Each participant is invited to attend an initial training webinar that is followed a few weeks later with a second webinar that focuses on implementation of the strategies introduced.
  • The team of faculty who provide the training in heath literacy, health equity, health disparities and cultural humility include Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, Dr. Olga Garcia-Bedoya, Dr. Alana Biggers, and Dr. Carolyn Dickens.

Health Innovation Grants

EAGER: A Hybrid Dialogue System Architecture for Symbolic Control of Deep Learning Networks with a timeline of Aug 2021 – Aug 2025.

  • Dr. Allen-Meares serves as Co-PI along with Drs. Andrew Boyd (College of Applied Health Sciences) and Barbara Di Eugenio (College of Engineering) on this artificial intelligence project to develop a dialogue agent targeted at African American and Latinx patients with heart failure.
  • Initially, they were awarded a campus wide grant through the UIC Discovery Partners Institute Cycle 1 seed funding program. In 2019, they officially kicked off the research project to investigate the use of technological innovation to address health disparities among urban African American and Latino patients with heart failure. In 2021, they secured funding to begin the development of a chat bot that can be used to educate patients with heart failure.
  • Members of our team who conduct the training for healthcare professionals and community outreach workers in Rockford include Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, Professor and Chair for the Department of Occupational Therapy from the College of Applied Health, Dr. Olga Garcia-Bedoya, a physician at UI health. Dr. Manorama Khare, a research professor on the Rockford campus is the member of my team who is tasked with evaluation for the project. We offer training on health literacy and cultural humility to health care professionals and community health workers who directly serve residents in Rockford.

Carolyn Dickens, PhD a member of the Health literacy Office, received a grant to address incivility against nurses in hospital settings, which has become an important issue due to burn out among nurses and staffing problems. Dickens will serve as co-PI with Eileen Knightly, MHA, RN. Other members involved in this grant will be nurse leaders at UI Health and academic partners at the UIC College of Applied Sciences. This grant is important because currently there is no research based solutions for violence against nurses and since there is a shortage of nurses leading to high rates of nurse burn out this problem has become even more important. The project BRIDGeS (Building Resourceful Interactions Despite Grief and Stress) aims to improve patient and family interactions with nurses in hospitals.

Please find the link to the article below:

https://nursing.uic.edu/news-stories/carolyn-dickens-earns-grant-to-address-incivility-violence-toward-nurses/

Recent Projects

Workforce Development Grants

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High Risk and Underserved, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities Grant

  • This was a sub-contract with Cook County Department of Public Health and UIC School of Public Health for which Dr. Paula Allen-Meares served as a PI from 12/29/21 to 5/31/23.
  • For this project, the Office of Health Literacy partnered with the Cook County Department of Public Health on a $25M project that was funded through the CDC’s National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High Risk and Underserved, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities. As PI, Dr. Paula Allen-Meares facilitated training sessions for healthcare providers and community health workers throughout Cook County. The faculty members who served as Co-I’s and presenters on this project include Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, Dr. Olga Garcia-Bedoya, Dr. Alana Biggers, and Carolyn Dickens.

Public Health Emerita Professor on Epistemic Justice for Health Literacy During a Public Health Crisis

December 15, 2021

  • Michele Kelley, Associate Professor Emerita of Community Health Sciences, UIC School of Public Health, contributed to a just released National Academies “Perspectives” publication titled: Lessons from COVID-19 on Executing Communications and Engagement at the Community Level During a Health Crisis. She noted in the live discussion on which this report was based that it is short-sighted to claim that communities are “hard-to-reach”. The larger issues are that many segments of society are left out of community health planning, including program development and health communications. Their young people are not represented at our universities and in the health and community planning professions. Community engagement is often a “one-off”, short term task, with little authentic, culturally responsive approaches that offer meaningful roles and interchanges with affected communities. This includes recognizing and utilizing community assets and concerns, and providing concrete support for community efforts as well.
  • We not only have to consider community health literacy about a given health crisis, but also consider our own knowledge, with its limitations, in co-developing health communications with communities of interest. Dr. Kelley suggests that the concept of epistemic justice is useful for promoting health equity through valuing local and indigenous knowledge. This means examination of how health knowledge is produced and utilized in health promotion and health communication. It is bi-directional knowledge creation with communities from the start, not just academic knowledge that is “culturally tailored” and imposed top down.

References:

Overton, D., S. A. Ramkeesoon, K. Kirkpatrick, A. Byron, and E.S. Pak (Eds.). 2021. Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis on Executing Communications and Engagement at the Community Level During a Health Crisis. Washington, DC: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Bhakuni, H., & Abimbola, S. (2021). Epistemic injustice in academic global health. The Lancet Global Health.

Dr. Michele Kelley – Call to Action

  • Michele Kelley, ScD, MSW, MA, Office of Health Literacy affiliate and recently retired from the School of Public Health, published a paper with colleagues from the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) on femicide. She says: “Femicide is a global public health issue, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19. In our paper, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, we call for action at multiple levels to mitigate violence against women in all of its forms.” Dr. Kelley is collaborating with SAHM colleagues to deliver an online workshop for its multidisciplinary membership at the 2021 virtual annual meeting in March on preventing violence against girls and women, from a global health perspective.

The publication and journal are available through the UIC Library.

Kanbur, N., Barral, R., Efevbera, Y., Kelley, M. A., Svetaz, M. V., Miller, E., Bhave, S., Coyne-Beasley, T., & Raymond-Flesch, M. (2021). Call to Action Against Femicide: Illuminating a Shadow Pandemic as a Global Public Health Emergency. The Journal of Adolescent Health; official publication of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, S1054-139X(20)30691-1. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.11.022

Dr. Michele Kelley is a co-author on a published book chapter:

Svetaz, MV; Coyne-Beasley, T; Maria Trent, M.; Roy Wade, R; Ryan, M; Kelley, M.; Chulani, V. (2020). The Traumatic Impact of Discrimination and Racism on Young People and How to Talk About It. Chapter 42 in Ginsburg KR, McClain ZBR, eds. Reaching Teens: Strength-Based, Trauma-Sensitive, Resilience-Building Communication Strategies Rooted in Positive Youth Development. 2nd ed. American Academy of Pediatrics. Itasca, IL.

Dr. Michele Kelley has also published an article:

Estrella, M. L., Kelley, M. A., Durazo-Arvizu, R. A., Gallo, L. C., Chambers, E. C., Perreira, K. M., … & Lash, J. P. (2020). Volunteerism and Cardiovascular Health: The HCHS/SOL Sociocultural Ancillary Study. Health Behavior and Policy Review, 7(2), 120-135.

Pictures from Past Events

National Museum of Mexican Art Health Fair 2018

Dr. Mayra Estrella

Campus Wide Course about Health Literacy and Cultural Competence (2020)

Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, Affiliate Faculty

Dr. Paula Allen-Meares, Chancellor Emerita, Executive Director, Office of Health Literacy

Dr. Olga Garcia-Bedoya, Affiliate Faculty