African Americans (AA) suffer disproportionately across most health disparities (HD). Preventative behaviors
including screenings can inform proactive measures to address many HD which include: diabetes, heart disease,
high blood pressure, stroke, HIV, STDs/STIs, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, most of which can be
prevented.1-3 Evidence suggests that a lack of general health literacy (HL) and racially appropriate health
communication strategies may contribute to the consistent high rates of health disparities in the AA community.
Family Health Histories (FHH), which describe genetic and other familial contributions to health, have been
identified as an effective tool for prevention and early detection and screenings. The underutilization of FHHs in
AA communities negatively impacts screening and preventative measures that could prevent the onset of
disease, illness and ultimately death.4 Although many FHH toolkits have been created to assist families in
gathering FHH information, these tools typically are mostly focused for the general population and do not account
for the cultural and ethnic nuances, communication preference and health literacy levels of the African American
community.4 The failure to effectively engage AA in the creation and conception of culturally relevant FHH tools
and activities to date likely contributes to their underutilization in this population.
The objective of this K01 is to develop culturally appropriate FHH tools designed for broad understanding
and uptake in AA communities. The central hypothesis of this proposal is that, using a community based
participatory research (CBPR) approach, co-development of a culturally appropriate FHH toolkit will increase the
utility and engagement of AA families in FHH activities; increase effective health communication within the family
structure; and increase the health literacy of participants in a multifaceted effort to reduce and ultimately eliminate
racial and ethnic health disparities. Flint is an ideal community in which to conduct this participatory research
because the recent events of the Flint Water Crisis have created interest in genetics and FHH in the AA
community as a result of community concern around the generational impacts of bacteria and lead exposure on
health. Therefore, we will have partners within AA communities in Flint who will be motivated to partner with us
to develop these tools for Flint and for other minority communities.
This career development award is being submitted by Dr. Kent Key, a candidate with extensive experience
in CBPR and a solid foundation in qualitative and health disparities research. To reach his long term goal of
becoming an R01-funded researcher in CBPR to reduce health disparities by increasing health literacy and
using effective health communication strategies to reduce and ultimately eliminate racial health disparities for
African-American populations, this K01 will provide additional training in the following areas: (1) intervention
development and design and conduct of randomized trials, (2) health communication models, (3) health literacy
promotion, (4) CBPR approaches to Genomics and Genetics, (5) biostatistics, (6) grant-writing.