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New Study Seeks To Improve Covid Testing Access To Natives, Latinx

Discover Kalispell

Researchers from two Northwest universities are wondering about the most effective way to get Covid testing supplies to Native American and Latino people. They’ve received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to test their ideas in Washington and Montana.Alexandra Adams from Montana State University is the principal investigator of the project known as Protecting Our Communities.

“What we know is that the Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected people who identify as American Indian or Hispanic/Latino," she said.

Part of that is because people in those communities often struggle to access health care. So Adams and her research colleagues at the University of Washington School of Medicine picked out a strategy.

“We decided to work on home-based testing, realizing that home-based testing for any kind of viral diseases or other kind of chronic disease is going to be the wave of the future and this could be a useful tool," she said.

They’ve picked out two communities on which to test their strategy, people who live on the Flathead Reservation in northwest Montana and Latinx people who live near Yakima.

Adams says the research team will split the groups into two. One will receive Covid testing materials in the mail and few, if any, special instructions for how to administer them. The second will have their tests delivered by someone who can provide help with how to use them.

“Many of these home testing kits require text messaging or email delivery and not all of our community members have access to that, so they’ll get assistance with extra things," she said.

They’ll measure how many people in each group administer the tests and report the results. And they’ll ask people about the experience, says Laurie Hassell from the University of Washington’s Institute of Translational Health Sciences.

“The final aspect of this is really to create community-driven models that can then be used, not only by the communities we’re working with now, but that can be adapted for other communities of American Indian/Alaska Native, Latino/Hispanic, so that nobody has to start from ground zero to try to figure out how to do this," she said.

Hassell says this study is one of about 70 around the nation that are underway.