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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Website aspires to reduce racial heath disparities

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A new initiative by Anthem Inc., the National Urban League, City of Hope and Pfizer Inc. aims to help the African-American community take their health into their own hands by providing an online resource that aids in the elimination of health disparities in the Black community. These organizations have collaborated to create Take Action for Health, a website that explores risk factors and provides prevention plans related to breast cancer, heart disease and mental illness.

“We have pulled together a really unique group of organizations with the common goal of eliminating health disparities,” said Jennifer Hausman, public health program director with Anthem. “The purpose of the website is really to encourage people to get screened. The website walks individuals through the steps of learning about why they are at risk, then it moves them into the ‘act’ section, where they learn what they need to do.”

Indianapolis is one of three cities that were selected to test the website prior to its launch. National Urban League affiliates in Indianapolis, Kansas City and Houston invited 300 participants to attend wellness programs, test the website and share their level of satisfaction with the site, as well as their level of empowerment concerning their health care.

According to Anthem, African-Americans have the highest death rate from heart disease and stroke and the lowest breast cancer survival rate of all ethnic and racial groups. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says African-Americans are 10 percent more likely than whites to report having serious psychological distress. Freda Lewis-Hall, chief medical officer at Pfizer, said in a press release that inadequate access to quality health information is among the root causes of health disparities.

The easy-to-navigate website is organized into three modules: heart health, emotional well-being and breast health. Within each module there are four sections: learn, act, track and share. The website also addresses obstacles that African-Americans face when it comes to accessing health care.   

“People have real-life barriers. They might have transportation or cost barriers. We basically inventory the different barriers that came up and we provide ways to work around those barriers,” Hausman said. “Then we go to the password-protected track section of the site, which allows them to record their screening results and remind themselves when their next screening should be.”

Hausman says the goal is for the Black community to share this tool with each other so that, over time, there will be an increase in health equity.

“The last section is share. The share section is really important,” she said. “We not only want individuals to share their results with their health care team, but we also want them to share the website and the need for screening with friends and family and people in their community.”


To access Take Action for Health, visit takeactionforhealth.org.

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