Community Engaged Research Initiative Announces Population Health Improvement Award Winners

July 13, 2021

The Duke CTSI Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERI) team is delighted to announce the recipients of its 2021-22 Population Health Improvement Awards. These annual competitive awards promote and foster community-engaged research collaborations with the overall goal of improving local health. Two new community-academic research partnership teams are set to receive $50,000 in funding for their one year research projects that will begin in September. The funded projects are:

Implementing NCCare360 to improve uptake of community resources that address unmet social needs identified in primary care
C. Crowder (Lincoln Community Health Center) and J. Bettger (Duke University).

While healthcare organizations increasingly aim to address unmet social needs, such as food insecurity and housing instability, there is little guidance on how to best deploy and organize staff to address them. This project builds upon a Bass Connections funded partnership between Duke and Lincoln Community Health Center that began in 2018 and expanded to include Duke Health and the Partnership for Healthy Durham. The research team will study the feasibility, reach and acceptability of implementing different strategies to assist patients who receive their primary care at Lincoln with their social and behavioral needs. Fndings will serve as a foundation to promote uptake of NCCare360 and the staffing to support patients with unmet social needs in ambulatory care.

Improvement of Mental Health in the Asian American Communities 
P. Zhang (Carolinas Chinese American Civic Center) and P. Lin (Duke University)

Mental health is a rising and largely unmet need among Asian Americans. According to a 2017 CDC survey, suicide was the leading cause of death for Asian Americans ages 15 to 24 and Asian American females, grades 9-12, were 20% more likely to attempt suicide as compared to whites. A meta-analysis showed that 27-36% of Asian Americans experience depressive symptoms. Despite the need, a 2018 national survey reports that Asian Americans are much less likely to receive mental health services. Asians with past year major depressive episode are less likely (43.9%) to receive treatment than Whites (68.5%). The COVID pandemic has fueled xenophobia against Asian Americans in general and Chinese Americans in particular, and worsened their mental health. This team’s goal is to identify effective interventions in improving mental health in Asians. They will engage the regional Chinese community and solicit input from partners and communities to assess mental health needs and potential barriers in receiving care. The team’s research will inform community-based interventions.

CERI would like to thank its member review panel composed of individuals representing community based organizations as well as NCCU and Duke academic researchers for reading the proposals and providing important feedback.  For more information about the Population Health Improvement award funding mechanism, contact Eve Marion (