Bariatric research bridging gaps in cultural health disparities

Multidisciplinary research team to analyze chronic disease in black men

Ekaterina Noyes didn’t expect to form a multidisciplinary team when she began researching bariatric surgery. She didn’t expect to research chronic illness within the black male community, either. But now she is recruiting volunteers for this specific study.

Noyes, professor and director of the Division of Health Services Policy and Practice, is currently conducting a study analyzing health and wellness among black men. She happened upon the topic while researching patients of various weight-loss surgeries and noticed that black men represent only 2% of the patient population. While planning her study, Noyes quickly realized the matter required more than just a surgical perspective. Now, she has a team of professionals investigating the surgical, behavioral, preferential and cultural aspects which affect
the health of black men.

Although still in its early stages, Noyes hopes the research findings will lead to solution implementation in the community as well as further research avenues.

Noyes is working with various local churches as well as patient ambassadors to recruit participants within the study’s target audience.

“Right now we are recruiting more patients… and we want to hear a variety of different opinions because, obviously, people’s opinions vary,” Noyes said. “So we want to do a number of [semi-structured interviews] and once we have a good understanding of the variety of opinions, then we could do a large scale study and start asking people specific questions. Because right now, we don’t even know why this [disparity] is happening.”

Noyes said the study initially included surgeons and researchers, but she expanded her team after finding the topic encompassed more concepts than she originally thought. She said it can be a “humbling experience” to admit there are things outside of one’s expertise, but it leads to stronger research.

“The idea of multidisciplinary, team-based research is critically important,” Noyes said. “Because in reality, the world doesn’t have surgical problems and non-surgical problems, the problems are human problems. And in order to address them appropriately, you need to bring
people with different expertise to the table.”

JACKLYN WALTERS – Health Journalist