Community partnerships to promote Black health

Portland’s PreSERVE Coalition Talk & Taste

Partnerships between the academic research community and local health organizations is imperative to improving health outcomes for all, especially for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). One such organization is Portland’s PreSERVE Coalition, who supports Black American memory and brain health through research collaborations and community organizing.

PreSERVE Portland Coalition members

Recently, Omar Ordaz-Johnson, a Research Assistant in the Institute’s Clinical Physiology and Chronobiology Program obtained support from PreSERVE to help inform the design of a recent qualitative study using focus group interviews. This study explored healthcare experiences among Black Americans with the aim of identifying barriers in optimizing their care. Mentorship for this project was provided by Dr. Nicole Bowles, PhD, as well as by Dr. Raina Croff, PhD from OHSU’s Department of Neurology, School of Medicine. Omar presented findings from the focus groups at PreSERVE’s October Talk & Taste virtual event.

The Talk & Taste event series, occurring three times annually since 2013, was recently adapted to an online interactive experience with the goal of providing engaging activities, informative talks, and light exercises to promote healthy aging in the local Black community. Mx. Ordaz-Johnson’s talk titled “Black Health Matters: Breaking Barriers in Primary Care,” touched on healthy relationships with healthcare providers for Black American patients. Following the talk was a panel Q&A with three licensed clinicians: Vyshika Willis, LMFT; Abbie Assefa, FNP-BC; and Dr. Allison Lindauer, PhD, NP. Panelists shared their insights and attendees were able to ask questions regarding their own healthcare experiences.

PreSERVE Portland Coalition members

Latroy Robinson, a Research Assistant in the Clinical Physiology and Chronobiology Program. then led seated dance exercises to tunes such as “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” by S.O.S. Some attendees were so engaged that they were up and out of their chairs by the end of the first song. Attendees were then sorted into breakout sessions where they discussed photos from historic Portland that were provided by the Sharing History through Active Reminiscence and Photo-imagery (SHARP) study. The SHARP study, developed by Dr. Croff in 2015, is also supported by PreSERVE and aims to maintain or improve cognitive health among older Black Americans through increasing physical and social activity—a particular challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event concluded with a cooking demonstration by Norma Rixter, a renowned lifestyle, fitness, and nutrition consultant, where attendees used the chat box to provide their own experiences and tips for cooking simple and healthy meals. These types of interactive online events create a new avenue for investigators to share research with the community and has proven to be both exciting and informative! The Clinical Physiology and Chronobiology Program looks forward to future events and continuing partnerships with organizations such as PreSERVE, in order to assist in helping to close the gap between the academic and local communities.

Blog submitted by: Omar Ordaz-Johnson, B.S. Research Assistant 2 and Shelby L. Watkins, M.P.H Research Associate of the Clinical Physiology and Chronobiology Program