a chance to take charge of their health
February 22, 2006
EARTH - Education And Research Towards Health - is a five-year progressive study is focused on how diet, physical activity and other lifestyle and cultural factors affect chronic diseases in people of Alaska Native and American Indian descent. Some of the diseases tracked by the national research project include cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and chronic lung and respiratory diseases. The EARTH study is funded by the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. In Southeast Alaska, SEARHC is conducting the EARTH study.
"The strength of this study is it's designed for the tribes by the tribes," said Maybelle Filler, who is the EARTH study project coordinator for SEARHC. "Natives are involved in the entire process. Tribal resolutions have to be done before we bring the study to a community. And we'll report back to the community once we have the data."
Those who choose to be a part of the EARTH study will receive a free personalized health summary, which they can use to improve their own health, Filler said. The in-depth health screening and summary will tell each participant his or her risk factors for various chronic diseases and what small lifestyle changes can be made to reduce these risks. The study is open to all Alaska Natives and American Indians age 18 and older eligible for health care provided by the federal Indian Health Service. Participants also will receive a thank-you gift and have a chance to win prizes, such as two round-trip tickets to Ketchikan on Alaska's Inter-Island Ferry Authority.
"By taking part in the EARTH study, Native residents of Hydaburg can help researchers better understand how lifestyle, diet, physical activity and other factors influence the health of Native people in general," Filler said. "That means participants eventually will improve medical care to Natives, their family members and the community. It's your study, too."
The target for the first stage of the study is 10,000 participants nationally, with 4,000 of them coming from three regions in Alaska. Besides SEARHC, the other Alaska health care organizations helping with the EARTH study are Southcentral Foundation of Anchorage and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. in Bethel. As of Feb. 3, 2006, there had been 2,984 Alaska Natives registered for the study. Filler said the SEARHC EARTH study workers will register as many people as they can for the study, even if they exceed their target. The more Alaska Natives who register for the study the better the final data, Filler said. Eventually, the national EARTH study plans to register 80,000 participants, with most of them coming from Alaska, the Navajo Nation and the Dakotas.
For more information on the
study, Hydaburg residents can call 1-877-966-8937 toll-free through
March 9. From March 10-16, EARTH study workers can be reached
in Hydaburg at 285-3535.
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