The Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity (CCDE) this spring launched its Health Equity Action Lab (HEAL), a new initiative that aims to support and showcase community-based research in the arena of health equity and to provide a platform for research that examines the accessibility of health resources.
Dr. Carmen Gonzalez, a UW Communication faculty member and an associate director for the CCDE, explained the objective of the new lab: “We want to connect researchers with communities by showing all of the methods and the projects we do as researchers and seeing if there’s a way to address social issues through that work.”
One of the community-based interventions HEAL hosts is its roundtable series, which takes a more accessible and conversational approach to create discussions around health equity. The series provides an opportunity for researchers to not only share their findings, but also to reflect on their experiences and challenges in doing community-based work.
Gonzalez explains that rather than a traditional academic conference, HEAL wanted to create content that could live in digitally accessible spaces, such as YouTube so they can be utilized as classroom or community meeting materials later on.
The new lab has so far hosted two roundtable discussions on health, equity, and community engagement. In the first, Gonzalez and Dr. Jody Early from UW Bothell’s School of Nursing and Health Studies discussed community-based engagement work. The second featured a conversation between UW Communication’s Dr. Timeka Tounsel and Wayne State University’s Dr. Jessica Moorman about Black-on-Black women’s health and engagement work.
“These are very different topics, but the core is always research and partnerships that are responsive to community needs,” Gonzalez said. “So we’ll keep going in that way, inviting folks to engage with us.”
The CCDE is also using HEAL as a platform to highlight related research projects, such as “Resistance through Resilience,” which explores the impact of the pandemic and how it built individual and community resilience during harsh times.
The lab will also highlight Gonzalez’s research on postpartum mental health care, which examines ways to make mental health options such as virtual therapy more accessible for communities of color.
Moving forward, Gonzalez hopes that through HEAL, people can learn how communication research and theory can contribute to addressing health disparities and the importance of communication in positive health and equity outcomes.
“I hope people see the lab as a space where very meaningful research is happening,” Gonzalez said. “And students can have a place that they connect with if they’re doing health-related work in our department or across the university.”
To learn more about HEAL and all Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity programs and initiatives, visit: http://ccde.com.washington.edu