New Award Will Help to Advance Digital Equity in Detroit

As a gerontologist and expert in health communication, Carrie Leach has been concerned by the “Dying Before Their Time” reports (2002, 2020), which highlight the death rates of Detroit seniors as twice as high compared to the rest of the state. It is well known that Detroiters face health inequities from being medically underserved to lacking access to technology which impedes their ability to access information. "Without health knowledge, it's hard to improve your health," Leach says. She hopes to increase older adults’ ability to be involved with virtual research through a new award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  


Dr. Leach’s new project, “Bridging the Divide: Fostering Partnerships for Urban African American Aging Research” takes a community-engaged approach to addressing some of these inequities with older African American Detroiters. The project aims to establish an Aging Research Council, build older adult capacity to be involved in research, and identify and prioritize patient-centered outcomes research topics relevant to older African Americans.


The “Aging Research Council” will be made up of Detroit residents, researchers, and health and aging advocacy organization leaders including from the Detroit Food Policy Council, Hope Village Revitalization, Denby Neighborhood Alliance, and Oakman Manor which is a senior living site. The Council will help guide the development of digital and research literacy tools so they are senior-centered. These tools will help older adults learn to access and use technology as well as build their capacity to engage in the research process.  "I know we can do better. We can do more to involve people in research, and their involvement is the only way research is going to solve health disparities. We can also do better to involve older people in research, who are our wisdom keepers and deserve to be heard." By collaborating with older residents, Dr. Leach aims to better understand the research priorities and needs that can help reduce some of the negative health outcomes older adult African Americans in Detroit face.


Carrie is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Gerontology, Community Engagement Leader at the Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES), and Associate Center Director for Community Inclusion at the Center for Health Equity and Community Knowledge in Urban Populations at Wayne State University. To learn more about Dr. Leach click here.

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