UNT Health Science Center to Launch Effort to Educate Hispanics about Heart Disease

April 25, 2001

FORT WORTH, Texas â?? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health has selected six organizations, including the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, to form the foundation of a national effort to educate people in low-income and minority communities about cardiovascular disease.

The six organizations, named Enhanced Dissemination and Utilization Centers, are located in communities with heart disease and stroke death rates far in excess of the national average. They are the first to be selected to participate in what will eventually be a nationwide NHLBI network of community-based organizations implementing targeted, culturally sensitive heart health education strategies aimed at changing local physician practices and patient behaviors.

Public health and medical school faculty from the health science center will develop a comprehensive health promotion, health education and outreach program to increase awareness and knowledge about cardiovascular disease prevention and to promote heart-healthy lifestyles among Hispanics. The health science center will work with staff at its Northside Family Practice Clinic, as well as Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, The Hispanic Coalition of Fort Worth and The Dallas Concilio on the project.

The UNT Health Science Centerâ??s School of Public Health will receive $429,000 in funding from the NHLBI over the next three years to support its activities.

Hector Balcazar, Ph.D., is a professor in the School of Public Health and principal investigator on the project. Co-investigators include health science center faculty members Adela Gonzalez, vice president of strategic and institutional affairs, and Muriel Marshall, D.O., Dr. P.H., associate professor in the School of Public Health and department of family medicine.

“This project uses the Salud para su Corazón (Health for your Heart) model to guide a variety of dissemination strategies into target Hispanic communities,” said Dr. Balcazar. “Weâ??re partnering to make Salud para su Corazón a reality for our Latino family.”

The Salud para su Corazón model uses promotoras, lay health educators, to reach Latino families with educational messages and interventions that reflect the needs of the family. The lay health educators will receive training, which provides them with in-depth and user-friendly tools to promote heart health and family wellness.

Through this program, the School of Public Health will host community activities, such as guided group discussions, community health fairs and cooking demonstrations.

The other five organizations are The Dan River Region Cardiovascular Health Initiative Program in Southside, Virginia, the Delta Health Education Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, St. Maryâ??s Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and West Virginiaâ??s Health Right, Inc.â??s Health Heart Project.

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