The University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) Research Center of Excellence: Making a Difference in Latino Health is a collaborative project between the UPR, CHA, and Harvard Medical School (HMS). The mission of the UPR-CHA Research Center of Excellence is to conduct research on Latino health and health care disparities, specifically in mental health and asthma, and to use the knowledge obtained to generate and test models of improved service delivery to eliminate these disparities. The UPR-CHA Research Center of Excellence is led by an experienced and diverse team with a long history of collaboration and commitment to the study of service disparities among ethnic minority populations, and expertise in the fields of epidemiology, psychometrics, clinical interventions, services research, systems intervention, statistics, anthropology, and economics.



Aim 1: Establish an administrative structure that integrates and centralizes a synergistic core of researchers into a single interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research enterprise by pulling together resources, leadership, and expertise from the mainland United States and the island of Puerto Rico to conduct asthma and mental disorders disparities research in Latino communities.

Aim 2: Continue to establish, strengthen and maintain partnerships with organizations and communities for conducting original and relevant research leading to improvement in Latino health and in eliminating service disparities.

Aim 3: Enhance the research and training activities of the ongoing UPR-CHA EXPORT Center to mentor and develop Latino investigators and to increase the number of minority researchers who conduct scientifically rigorous Latino health and health disparities research.

Aim 4: Formulate and conduct an interdisciplinary asthma and mental health services and intervention research program to increase our understanding of and eliminate and/or reduce service disparities of Latinos in all stages of their life cycle (children, adults and the elderly).

Aim 5: Disseminate and integrate the product of these efforts to inform policy decisions, clinical practice and community partners, and orient the health service systems to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services.


Projects & Pilots

Current Projects

  • Project 1: Pediatric Asthma Community Based Program: Eliminating Asthma Disparities (PACBP). This project proposes to test the effectiveness of a multi-level asthma management program geared to eliminate asthma disparities in treatment by intervening at the family, provider and health policy level. The effectiveness of this program (called “Pediatric Asthma Community Based Asthma Program (PACBP)”) in reducing asthma morbidity and service utilization as well as costs, will be tested in a randomized control trial in a pilot health region of the island.
  • Project 2: The Right Question Project – Mental Health. The RQP-MH project is a randomized control trial designed to test and evaluate a patient activation and self-management intervention in mental health care, and identify whether provider training can further increase patient activation and self-management in the clinical encounter. The main objective of the patient activation and self-management trainings is to help patients learn how to formulate and ask questions about mental health care concerns and treatment; to focus and participate effectively on key decisions made during the course of mental health treatment; and to better self-manage their illness and mental health care.
  • Project 3: Disparities in Substance Abuse Treatment. We are conducting four sets of analyses aimed at better understanding the magnitude of substance abuse treatment disparities, the mechanisms by which they occur, and the social and economic burden of these disparities. These analyses are designed to generate policy-relevant information that will impact a wide range of key stakeholders in the health disparities and substance abuse field, including academics, practitioners, community leaders and the general public.
  • Pilot 1: Disparities in Mental Health Care in Nursing Homes. This pilot documents disparities in the treatment and outcomes of mentally ill nursing home residents exist by race and ethnicity and decomposes the sources of any disparities in the treatment and outcomes of mentally ill nursing home residents and determine whether they are predominantly a “within” or “across” facility phenomenon


Funding Acknowledgement

This work was supported by Grant # P60 MD002261 from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD).