Highlighting the All of Us Research Program
Alex T. Olson
Later this month, NRHA will be participating in the Adelante Promotores Conference in San Diego. This year, the theme—United for Healthy Communities—provides a platform for health advocates to grow their professional skills and reflect on our role in developing culturally competent, accessible care models that can help eliminate health disparities in the United States.
This event will focus on the important influence community health workers (CHWs) can have on creating healthier communities. In 2011, NRHA established a commitment to train at least 60 CHWs along the U.S.-Mexico border to address access to care in the region. Since then, NRHA has trained over 500 CHWs around the country, empowering the health care workforce in rural communities. The success of the CHW program demonstrates how cultural understanding and flexibility are key to public health.
The health of rural America is currently at a tipping point—the CDC has found that the 46 million Americans living in rural areas are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke than those living in urban centers.
In order to tackle these issues, we need the help of community health workers and more inclusionary medical research. The All of Us Research Program has the potential to transform health care in America and break down health disparities underrepresented communities, including rural America. The program recognizes that rural communities not only face disproportionate health obstacles and risks but that they are also left out of the very research into treatments and therapies that could help solve those problems.
All of Us is a program from the National Institutes of Health that doesn’t focus on any one specific population or health condition. Rather, it aims to enroll people from all walks of life, especially those who have been underrepresented in biomedical research. This includes people of all backgrounds: rural, black, Hispanic, and elderly, to name a few. All of Us is also seeking to enroll participants with a diverse range of health conditions and statuses so researchers who are interested in a specific condition or illness can access the data to develop studies of their own.
By understanding the health needs of our rural communities, researchers can begin to develop tailored, effective, community-centric treatments. However, the only way we can ensure researchers understand the needs of rural America is by achieving equal representation in medical research.
At the Adelante Promotores Conference, advocates—promotores—will have the opportunity to learn about All of Us and its efforts to advance precision care for all. The word “adelante” means forward; the name of the conference reflects the need to always look to the future of care and how we can create a healthier, more equitable tomorrow. At NRHA, we believe All of Us is part of that future.
To learn more about the importance of CHWs and culturally competent care, attend this year’s Adelante Promotores Conference and consider sharing the All of Us Research Program with your community. Learn more at.
NRHA partnered with the National Institutes of Health to produce the above piece for publication within the Association’s Rural Health Voices blog