The Healthy Environments Partnership (HEP) is a community-based participatory research effort investigating variations in cardiovascular disease risk, and the contributions of social and physical environments to those variations, among non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and Hispanic residents in three areas of Detroit, Michigan. Initiated in October 2000 as a part of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' Health Disparities Initiative, HEP is affiliated with the Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center. The study is guided by a conceptual model that considers race-based residential segregation and associated concentrations of poverty and wealth to be fundamental factors influencing multiple, more proximate predictors of cardiovascular risk. Within this model, physical and social environments are identified as intermediate factors that mediate relationships between fundamental factors and more proximate factors such as physical activity and dietary practices that ultimately influence anthropomorphic and physiologic indicators of cardiovascular risk. The study design and data collection methods were jointly developed and implemented by a research team based in community-based organizations, health service organizations, and academic institutions. These efforts include collecting and analyzing airborne particulate matter over a 3-year period; census and administrative data; neighborhood observation checklist data to assess aspects of the physical and social environment; household survey data including information on perceived stressors, access to social support, and health-related behaviors; and anthropometric, biomarker, and self-report data as indicators of cardiovascular health. Through these collaborative efforts, HEP seeks to contribute to an understanding of factors that contribute to racial and socioeconomic health inequities, and develop a foundation for efforts to eliminate these disparities in Detroit.
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