Cook Center Grant to Support Study of Race, Religion, Health

The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University has received a $2.7 million grant to study the relationship between religion, spirituality and cardiovascular disease risks in African Americans.

The five-year project is supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health.

Although rates of cardiovascular disease are similar between white and black Americans, the latter population is 30 percent more likely to die from the disease. African Americans report higher levels of religiosity than any other ethnic group in the United States, making religion and spirituality a strong avenue for prevention and intervention efforts.

Professor Keisha Bentley-Edwards, associate director of research at the Cook Center, will lead the research effort with professor William Darity Jr., founding director of the Cook Center. Bentley-Edwards was hired jointly by the Cook Center and the Duke University School of Medicine.

“Investigating African Americans' religion and spirituality as a tool for eliminating health disparities allows us to conduct research that is both precise and generalizable,” Bentley-Edwards said. “That will be useful to researchers, practitioners and faith-based health initiatives.”

The project reflects the Cook Center’s emphasis on health inequities and on the relationship between racism and health outcomes.

“The addition of Dr. Bentley-Edwards is critical to the center’s quest to build a strong research agenda and to understand and reduce health inequities,” Darity said.

The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity is an interdisciplinary research center of scholars from across Duke and beyond. Learn more at https://socialequity.duke.edu/.