University of South Alabama

Martha Arrieta, M.PH,. M.D., Ph.D.

Director of Research


There is a great need for concern regarding the healthcare of several groups of people in Metropolitan Mobile and the Gulf Coast Region (which includes Southern Alabama, Southeast Mississippi and Southwest Florida). In fact, these areas have some of the most desperate health concerns in the country. The health disparities in the region's large African American population in many instances exceed the national average. Similar problems persist in the area's Native American and growing Hispanic and Asian communities. The region also has a growing senior population with unique health needs and concerns that must be addressed as well. These and other special needs of people in the Gulf Coast Region constitute challenges and opportunities for the University of South Alabama to help develop healthy communities and improve the lives of people it serves.

Exemplifying their strong desire to alleviate such health disparities, USA introduced the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC). By providing research, analysis and information on matters of community health and building partnerships to foster healthier communities, the CHC is striving to improve the quality of healthcare, and thus life, for individuals in Mobile and surrounding areas.


With an understanding of the above needs, the Center for Healthy Communities has initiated a number of research projects aimed at understanding, reducing, and eliminating health disparities in the Mobile, Alabama region.

Since 1994, the Center for Healthy Communities has been funded in a multi-faceted federal grant to address health disparities through the establishment of a Center of Excellence.  The scope of this grant includes support for establishing and creating strong relationships with the community.  The majority of the research has been performed through a research core provided by this grant.  The community engagement core has been working with both community adults and youth in efforts to provide both populations with strong resources, collaborations, and education on the reduction of health disparities.  A research education and training core has been devoted to providing research opportunities and experiences to undergraduate students to encourage minorities to contribute toward the reduction of health disparities through scientific research.

Below are projects which the CHC has dedicated resources toward in the past:

Subcontract Between Morehouse School of Medicine, Inc. and University of South Alabama     2010-2011

PI: Martha Arrieta, M.P.H., M.D., Ph.D. 

The project focuses on dissemination of data attained for the project termed "Gulf Coast Telehealth Ethnography", completed July 31, 2011. It involves the writing of an article based on the data collected, as well as partial re-analysis of data to identify users and non-users of telehealth. It also entails work with TBN Community Based Organization providing support to work related to health disparities. 


ROSS-Elderly Persons With Disabilities     2010

PI: Martha Arrieta, M.P.H., M.D., Ph.D.

The goal of this agreement is to produce an evaluation report of activities conducted by the MHB under the ROSS-Elderly persons with disabilities Grant #AL002REL018A006.


Gulf Coast Telehealth Ethnography Project     2009-2010

PI: Martha Arrieta, M.P.H., M.D., Ph.D.

Co-PI: Errol Crook, M.D.

The primary aim of the present proposal is to identify strategies and processes which have resulted in the establishment of fully functional telehealth programs in the Gulf Coast Region, as well as the barriers experienced by institutions which have been unsuccessful in developing such programs.  Setting:  Gulf Coast stakeholders and organizations engaged in rebuilding the Gulf Coast public health infrastructure.  


Real-Time Tele-Monitoring of Glucose     2008-2010

PI: Martha Arrieta, M.P.H., M.D., Ph.D.

Co-PI: Errol Crook, M.D.


The goal of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of telephone monitoring of patients blood glucose levels in real-time for the management of Type II Diabetes.


A Network Approach of Facilitating Continuity of Care for Patients with Chronic Diseases in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster     2006-2007

PI: Martha Arrieta, M.P.H., M.D., Ph.D.

Co-PI: Errol Crook, M.D.


The present proposal aims at facilitating the dialogue among primary care health providers, hospitals, community based for-profit and not-for-profit pharmacies, and community based organizations in the gulf coast in order to: A) Identify the critical chronic disease management needs in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, both from the provider and the patient perspectives, B) Identify the elements of a community based network that would be ready to cover such needs, and C) Define the resources required to make such network functional.  We will focus in the management of major chronic diseases and of HIV/AIDS.


CPT Baseline Evaluation & Needs Assessment     2006-2007

PI: Martha Arrieta, M.P.H., M.D., Ph.D.

Co-PI: Allen Perkins, M.D.


The goal of this agreement is to improve the health of the residents within Central Plaza Towers (CPT) and the members of the surrounding community.  This includes the determination of the need and perceived value of a Chronic Disease Management Center and a Health Promotion Center to be located within the senior citizen housing facility to be utilized by facility residents as well as the immediately surrounding neighborhood residents.


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