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Health Disparities and Preferred Treatment Options of Older African Americans

Nancy L. Chernett, MPH
Jefferson Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health (CARAH)
Jefferson College of Health Professions

This presentation was part of the 2007 JCHP Occupational Therapy Alumni Day, Understanding the Aging Experience: New Directions for OT Practice.

The presentation provides a brief review of current views of and health status data on racial and ethnic health disparities in the U.S. as the backdrop for community-based participatory research being conducted by CARAH in collaboration with Center in the Park, an urban senior center in Philadelphia primarily serving older African Americans. Two projects are presented which exemplify the process of developing culturally competent programs which reflect the cultural and social tenets of urban African American older adults, a traditionally vulnerable and under-served minority population. 1) Harvest Health, based upon Lorig's1 evidenced-based, Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, is a health promotion/disease prevention program tailored to the needs of community-dwelling African American older adults with a variety of chronic conditions. 2) In Touch: Mind, Body & Spirit explores culturally specific beliefs and preferences of older African Americans for maintaining physical and mental well-being in order to develop effective community-based depression prevention and treatment programs aimed at meeting the needs of this population.

Lessons learned are applied to the provision of culturally competent occupational therapy practice with diverse populations.

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