Monica Bruce
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National Minority Health Month

by Monica Bruce

April is National Minority Health Month! This annual observance raises awareness about the health disparities that persist among minoritized racial and ethnic and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. It urges us to take action to end these inequities. I couldn’t think of a better time to discuss why research matters to our community.

After many years in healthcare clinical service delivery, I jumped at the opportunity to transition into research. Specifically, research pertaining to healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. My knowledge of health disparities and inequities has grown exponentially since becoming involved in research. For instance, did you know that African Americans and Latinos are at a greater risk for dementia, but are the least likely to take part in research to uncover factors that contribute to healthy aging or dementia? It’s surprising, but true. I’m committed to community engagement — listening to the voices of the those most affected by disparities and working together to reduce racial and ethnic imbalances in research.

Community engagement is an increasingly popular research methodology, particularly for use with communities that are traditionally underrepresented in research. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) has declared a theme for 2024 of, “Be the Source for Better Health: Improving Health Outcomes Through Our Cultures, Communities, and Connections.” Let’s take a closer look at that.

“Source” implies an origin or place where something begins. Health disparities have complex and multifactorial origins. Through research we can untangle and uncover contributing factors, study their effects, and then use our findings to inform systemic and policy changes. We can improve outcomes through research by sharpening our understanding of the crucial role of circumstances, environments, and genetics in health inequities.

“Be the Source” implies a call for action. This is a call for each of us to contribute to achieving better health outcomes. It is well-documented that the largest demographic of research participants is White men. Without diverse contributions, research findings cannot be generalized to the entire population. As a community, we can use our collective voices to connect with researchers and make an impact on the research that matters to us.

As we commemorate National Minority Health Month 2024 and embrace the theme of “Be the Source for Better Health”, let's commit to leveraging our cultures, communities, and connections to drive progress in research. Let's uncover the roots of health disparities and work tirelessly to uproot them. Together we can ensure that every individual, regardless of race or ethnicity, can thrive.

Monica Bruce, MA

SuperAging Study Coordinator-Okonkwo Lab

Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center

University of Wisconsin-Madison

(608) 262-6864

MGE article