March 29, 2021

Two research teams with representation from the School of Social Work received grants from the UW Population Health Initiative to improve access to health care among multicultural communities hit hard during the pandemic. 

Social work professor Bonnie Duran, who is with the School’s Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, will explore ways to promote COVID vaccine intake among communities of color, with a special focus on the Vietnamese community. This community and others have faced disproportionate levels of illness and death throughout the pandemic.  

Duran’s team will work closely with the Vietnamese Health Board and an advisory board of diverse community partners to develop a toolkit for rapid mixed-methods research. Team members will develop a quantitative survey as well as qualitative interview guides that will help them better assess barriers to vaccine acceptance in these communities. They will also research how accessible is health care in general among these populations. 

The second multidisciplinary team will develop the Bidirectional Research Digital Engagement program (BRIDGE), which uses authentic community “voices” to address current COVID-19 needs among Latino communities. Team members include the Latino Center for Health; UW Department of Communications; UW School of Medicine; and the Mexican Consulate. Meg Gomez, an MSW student at the School of Social Work, is part of the seven-member team. 

BRIDGE’s innovative approach leverages media resources from the Mexican consulate (Spanish radio programing and Facebook), an interdisciplinary network of UW faculty who specialize in Latino health, and the storytelling experience of the UW Department of Communications to create an interactive culturally appropriate communications platform for Latino communities around COVID-19.

In all, eight faculty-led teams from seven different UW schools and colleges received $530,000 to develop innovative solutions as part of the Population Health Initiative. A hallmark of the program is its reliance on interdisciplinary collaboration and the inclusion of community partners.