By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
MINNEAPOLIS (Feb. 28, 2012) — The Community Advisory Board of the National Children’s Study – Ramsey County Location last week met to review the status of the Study for the Ramsey County location. Deborah Hendricks, Director of Community Engagement for the National Children’s Study facilitated the meeting.
Ramsey County is a part of the largest and longest study of its kind on children in the history of the United States. This is a comprehensive study with study sites in the majority of the states seeks to better understand and thus impact the quality of children’s lives across the United States.
Sites used a variety of recruitment strategies during the vanguard phase (pilot phase) to examine which strategies were most effective both in return as well as in investment. It is hoped lessons learned from the pilot will lead to more effective recruitment and retention during the study phase. Advisory members learned that locally, all types of recruitment for the Vanguard phase have ceased as nationally necessary numbers have been met. Presentations covered a variety of areas related to the study both locally and nationally.
Of particular interest was a presentation by Clarence Jones, Community Advisory Board Co-Chair and Director of Community Engagement for Southside Community Health Services. He also serves on the national community advisory board. Jones shared how he felt his role was to listen to the community and share their thoughts, suggestions, opinions and fears with the study leads. He felt the leads of this study both nationally and locally were very committed to hearing out the community voice as they move forward with the full study.
He noted areas they were able to impact the delivery of the study included advising on the tone of how information is presented to the community as well as educating the leadership on how to effectively message to the grassroots community.
According to the national website (http://www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov):
“The National Children’s Study will examine the effects of the environment, as broadly defined to include factors such as air, water, diet, sound, family dynamics, community and cultural influences, and genetics on the growth, development, and health of children across the United States, following them from before birth until age 21 years. The goal of the Study is to improve the health and well-being of children and contribute to understanding the role various factors have on health and disease. Findings from the Study will be made available as the research progresses, making potential benefits known to the public as soon as possible. research efforts geared towards studying children’s health and development and will form the basis of child health guidance, interventions, and policy for generations to come.”
Patricia M. McGovern, Ph.D., M.P.H. serves as Principal Investigator for the Ramsey County site. She is a professor in the Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Deborah Hendricks, M.P.H., R.N. , Director of Community Engagement
Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota is co-chair of the committee and took the time to answer a series of questions presented to her from Asian American Press. The questions and Ms. Hendricks responses are below:
What was the purpose of the Vanguard study?
The National Children’s Study will look at how genetics and children’s environments-the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the communities they live in—affect their health. Because this is the largest and longest children’s study done in the U.S., the study planners want to make sure it is conducted in the best way possible to learn all we can about children’s health.
The National Children’s Study established the Vanguard phase of the Study in 37 locations across the country, including Ramsey County. The purpose of this pilot phase is to try different ways to recruit participants, ask study questions, and measure children’s health to find the best and most efficient ways of operating the Main Study. Similar to the Main Study, which is expected to start in 2013 or 2014 and take place in up to 100 locations across the country, this pilot phase will follow children for 21 years and continue to inform the Main Study and provide information that may improve children’s health.
Were you successful in reaching the Asian American community?
We attended a number of events in the Asian American community over the past two years in order to share information about the study plans with the community. Some of these events include the Hmong Resource Fair, the Asian-American Heritage Celebration, and the Hmong Arts and Music Festival. In addition, we had resource tables at the Hmong Town Marketplace and we hosted baby showers at the East Side Family Center and at Hmong American Partnership. We have enrolled some Asian American mothers in the study in Ramsey County and talked with others who were interested in the study.
Which communities showed particular interest?
Individuals from both the Hmong and Karen communities showed interest in the study. Many were interested in the goal of improving the health of future generations of children. We also interviewed community leaders and members who provided us with helpful feedback about our materials and ways to be in contact with these communities to increase their understanding of the National Children’s Study.
Who are some of the partners you are currently working with?
Some examples are Hmong American Partnership, Neighborhood House, East Side Family Center, Asian American Press, St. Paul Public Schools, St. Paul and Ramsey County Libraries, St. Paul Parks and Recreation, Think Small, St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health, Maplewood Community Center, and clinics and hospitals in Ramsey County.
I understand the Vanguard study is coming to an end. If people are interested in learning about the final study what should they do?
While we are no longer adding new participants in the Vanguard study, all the participants who are enrolled so far are invited to remain in the study until their children are 21 years old. We expect the Main Study to start in the next 1-2 years and will put updates on our:
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ramseykids
We encourage people to follow us there for more information.
Why do you need to have people from the Asian community take part in this study?
The goal of the National Children’s Study is to learn from a diverse group of children across the United States. We want to encourage families from all cultural groups in Ramsey County, including families from the Asian community, to take part in the study so that we can learn about how all children can be healthy.
Is it safe? Are they taking any blood samples or anything like that?
At this time families in the study in Ramsey County are only being asked to answer questions about where they live and the health of family members. Later, families may be asked to collect samples from their homes like dust, soil and water. Trained study workers may also collect biological samples like blood and urine. The collection processes are safe and families can choose if they want to provide samples.
The National Children’s Study welcomes any level of involvement from the families who are enrolled and we are happy to answer any of your questions. Please call us at 612-626-KIDS (5437) or email us at [email protected]