Saint Louis University
Dr. Keon Gilbert is an Associate Professor with tensure in the Department of Behavioral Science & Health Education. His work draws on inter-disciplinary training in Biology, African American Studies, Public Affairs and Public Health to investigatethe intersection of racial identity, racial socialization, and structural racism as an important, yet unexplored, social determinant of African American male’s health across the lifecourse.
Part of understanding this intersection is to understand cultural and structural changes within African American communities over time and to better understand the opportunities and limitations of male’s participation in formal organizations, social networks and systems of social support where they live, work and play. Dr. Gilbert’s research interests include social capital, health disparities, African American Men’s health, and interventions to prevent chronic diseases. Specifically interventions he researches include: Developing diverse partnerships to build community capacity to sustain health initiatives; understanding the effects of racism at individual-and-community-levels, and the various systems that reinforce racist ideologies; understanding the cultural relevance to health promotion and disease prevention; and promoting the development and enhancement of social networks to improve health behaviors. Dr. Gilbert is also a member of the American Public Health Association and the Society for Public Health Education.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will provide increased health care access for many socially and economically disadvantaged men, which will include providing coverage for preventive services. Implementing the ACA will be met with great challenges as many men who did not have access to health services or rarely utilized health care services will not readily access and utilize these new services once they become available. The challenge and significance of this study is that it seeks to answer the questions of how to increase African American men’s utilization of preventative health services; how to improve health behaviors; and increase adherence/compliance to medical treatments.
This project will help identify major themes, issues, and research gaps that influence African American men’s health seeking behaviors. The implications of this study are far reaching with its ability to help define and delineate a comprehensive research agenda and framework to address racial, ethnic and gender health disparities, identify effective intervention strategies, identify community-based research opportunities and define priorities for policies to further aid African American men to access and utilize health care services.
My New Connections Experience
My program of research is focused on understanding the modest progress that has been achieved with regard to eliminating racial and gender-based inequalities. African-American males have worse health outcomes compared to White men and African-American women. Moreover, these under-investigated health disparities seem to persist across the life course; and as some suggest, result from African-American (AA) males’ unique experiences at the intersection of racial and gender discrimination. In an effort to address the dearth of knowledge in this area, my research has evolved to include: investigating the historic and systemic effects of the social and economic conditions and public policies that affect the health of AA males; identifying the sources of individual and organizational social capital that can inhibit and promote health behaviors and health care access to ultimately advance and improve the educational, economic, social and physical health of AA males; and identifying the cultural resources that will allow researchers and practitioners to delineate the mechanisms and health behaviors that place uneducated and educated AA men at high risk for chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD). The New Connections award will provide an opportunity to further my work to better understand not only how AA men have become silenced but to identify opportunities to privilege their voices by developing targeted health messages, enhance their skills, and provide them with resources that will enable them to become catalysts for health promotion and appropriate policy development and implementation to enhance AA men’s health and access to health care.
Social Capital; Health Disparities; African-American Men’s Health; Health Promotion and Disease Prevention; Interventions for Chronic Diseases.
- New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
- Award Year: 2013
- RWJF Team/Portfolio: Quality/Equality
- Project Name: Setting a research, practice and policy agenda to promote African American men’s increased use of health care services.