Photo of Multi Generation Hispanic Family Standing In Park

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed deep-rooted inequities in healthcare for communities of color. Hispanic Americans are among those affected. To address this ongoing issue, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has awarded Allergy & Asthma Network a $94,592.00 research support award.

The research support award will be used to host a Hispanic-focused virtual conference series starting October 2021. The goal of the virtual conference series is to encourage Hispanic Americans with asthma or at risk for COVID-19 to take a more active role in their healthcare. Hispanic Americans will also learn about patient engagement in research. Under-enrollment of people of color in research can reduce the relevance of research findings to those populations.

Recent COVID-19 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that Hispanic Americans are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than non-Hispanic whites. They also have among the highest rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Many have underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe symptoms.

In addition, asthma has long affected Hispanic communities in the United States. Approximately 6.4% have the chronic disease, according to CDC. (Puerto Ricans have twice the asthma rate compared to the overall Hispanic population.) Hispanics are twice as likely to visit the emergency department for asthma than non-Hispanic whites. And Hispanic children are 40% more likely to die from asthma compared to non-Hispanic whites.

The Network is working with the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) on developing the virtual conference series. People invited to attend include:

  • Hispanic patients and families
  • caregivers
  • faith-based leaders
  • medical experts
  • health researchers
  • anyone interested in learning more about COVID-19 and asthma inequities

The virtual conference series is designed to:

  • distribute patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) results to Hispanic Americans with COVID-19 and asthma;
  • review research related to Hispanics with COVID-19 and asthma;
  • share patient stories of living with COVID-19 and asthma;
  • address needs of patients and researchers to better engage Hispanic Americans in research.

“We are pleased to once again work with PCORI to help give Hispanic Americans the knowledge and skills they need to make informed, evidence-based decisions about their health,” says Allergy & Asthma Network President and CEO Tonya Winders. “Through our virtual conferences, patients will find trusted partners and sources of information and learn how they help others by participating in research studies.”

LeRoy Graham, MD, founder and medical director of the Network’s Not One More Life program, will lead the project. Not One More Life partners with churches and faith-based organizations to host free COVID-19 and asthma screenings in underserved communities.

“We are excited to bring the Not One More Life concept to this PCORI project,” Dr. Graham says. “Partnering with faith-based organizations broadens our reach into the Hispanic population. It allows patients to build a relationship with doctors and develop a foundation of trust within that community. Trust is very important in diagnosis, management and treatment of COVID-19 and asthma.”

According to Greg Martin, PCORI’s Acting Chief Engagement and Dissemination Officer, “This conference was selected for Engagement Award funding because it will bring together patients and other stakeholders to explore critical issues related to clinical effectiveness research (CER) and communicate PCORI-funded research findings to key stakeholders. We look forward to working with Allergy & Asthma Network throughout the course of their project.”

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.

Allergy & Asthma Network recently collaborated with PCORI on the Black People Like Me virtual conference series, held December 2020 through June 2021.