May 24, 2024

Kentucky colleges collaborate to help improve health equity

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Leaders from Simmons College and the University of Louisville want to study what characteristics of a neighborhood benefit or decrease an individual’s health.


What You Need To Know

  • Simmons College and University of Louisville are collaborating on a project to identify neighborhood assets
  • Research will be conducted through door-to-door surveys, interviews and focus groups in those neighborhoods
  • The 18-month project will start in September

A 2017 report released by the Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness Department shows the life expectancy in predominantly Black communities is over 12 years less compared to the most affluent neighborhoods. 

“It is not the result of the decisions that the residents have made, but the structural and systemic injustices that they have inherited,” Dr. Kevin Crosby, Simmons College president, said. 

The 18-month project will start in September and will focus on the Crescent Hill and California neighborhoods. 

Researchers will study health inequalities at the neighborhood level instead of focusing on the individual. 

They will identify neighborhood assets, look into the city’s investments for the areas over time, and determine how to implement policies that support health.

Simmons College students will conduct door-to-door surveys, interviews and focus groups in those neighborhoods.

“There’s personal policies that we like to talk about. Lifting yourself up from your own effort, your own bootstraps but ‘boot-strapism’ is not what creates optimum health, as important as that is, especially if you’re living in a community where there is an absence of medical services,” Cosby said.  

University of Louisville president Kim Schatzel says this unique approach could impact populations beyond the city.  

“For decades, we’ve had efforts to address the issue of health and equity through the health care system. But as all of us know, we know that health doesn’t just happen in hospitals or in doctors’ offices, that health outcomes happen to you every place that you are, particularly in your home and in your neighborhood,” Schatzel said. 

Schatzel says the zip code you live in has a high correlation with mortality and morbidity. 

“I know that the insights that are going to be gained will cause us to invest in places so that we can have health that is truly, truly, equitable, both in our city and in the Commonwealth and beyond,” Schatzel said.  

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has provided a $500,000 grant for the project.

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