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Founded in 1993, the UAB Center for the Study of Community Health is one of 25 Prevention Research Centers across the US designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Center focuses on reducing health risks among underserved populations throughout the state of Alabama and plays a leading role in the development of community-based participatory research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

As a designated UAB University-Wide Interdisciplinary Research Center, the Center for the Study of Community Health offers a unique prevention research environment that includes Center Scholars from a cross section of disciplines including clinicians, researchers, health-related professionals, social and behavioral scientists, and community leaders who are setting new standards in the state of Alabama and around the world.

The Center has a defined rural region (the Alabama Black Belt) and urban setting (Birmingham) as its geographic focus. Two primary community partnerships have developed as a result of the Centers educational, research, and service activities in communities that make up these regions. With support from the Center, both the West Central Alabama Community Health Improvement League (WCACHIL) and Congregations for Public Health (CPH) formed infrastructures that enabled them to become designated 501(c)3 organizations.

To expand support for our core research project and other initiatives in the urban setting, the Jefferson County Community Participation Board (JCCPB) provides ongoing, broad-based community input and guidance in planning and implementation of Center research, education, and service activities.

The 2019-2024 core intervention research project, CHEER (Community Health through Engagement and Environmental Renewal), was developed out of 12 months of meetings with city residents, who determined their key community needs as blight reduction and children's future success.  CHEER builds on observational studies by the Center and others demonstrating that youth risk behaviors are associated with family and neighborhood adversities. 

CHEER will test causal hypotheses in a randomized controlled trial that evaluates the independent and combined effects of a family system intervention and a community system intervention compared to a wait-list control.  The project will recruit parent-youth pairs from eight Birmingham neighborhoods to examine and improve adversities at the family and community levels on primary outcomes of improved social norms, social cohesion, and collective efficacy, along with reduced early and risky sex and externalizing and internalizing behaviors among youth.

The UAB Center for the Study of Community Health is a member of the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program and is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cooperative Agreement number U48/DP006404.


Overview of CHEER Project:



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