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UT Arlington study shows collaboration a key for better health care

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

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Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office:817-272-7075, Cell:214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

News Topics: health and fitness, urban and public affairs

A UT Arlington researcher who spent two years studying how community-based organizations promoted health care in an affluent Texas county found that a lack of coordination and collaboration among agencies hindered their ability to serve the public.

But Karabi Bezboruah, an assistant professor of the School of Urban and Public Affairs, also found that nonprofit organizations and health care agencies could improve health care services by using grassroots efforts to identify problems, collaborating to develop solutions and using community resources to educate the public about such issues.

Karabi Bezboruah

Karabi Bezboruah, assistant professor of the School of Urban and Public Affairs, analyzed six nonprofits, a public health office and a lead community organizer during the study. She discovered that collaboration among stakeholders could create more holistic and sustainable solutions.


“This study shows that health care deficiencies have stretched beyond the inner city,” said Bezboruah, author of the recent Journal of Community Practice article “Community Organizing for Health Care: An Analysis of the Process. “This is additional evidence that poverty has moved to the suburbs and that policymakers are ill prepared to address the related issues. It also shows public apathy to deal with this issue.”

The Georgia Center on Nonprofits recently highlighted Bezbouruah’s work on the organization’s public policy blog.

Bezboruah studied a suburban Texas community with a median income of $82,000 in which about 7.3 percent of the people lived below the poverty level and had no health insurance coverage. Under the terms of her study, Bezboruah cannot identify the community, though she said many people would be surprised by residents’ struggles because the community is thought of as being affluent.

Barbara Becker, dean of the School of Urban and Public Affairs, said Bezboruah’s research and recommendations are especially timely as enrollment in health insurance programs called for under the Affordable Health Care Act begins Oct. 1.

“If nonprofits can institute some of these recommendations, we could start reducing healthcare costs, which are an enormous drain on our economy,” Becker said.

Bezboruah analyzed six nonprofits, a public health office and a lead community organizer during the study. She discovered that collaboration among stakeholders could create more holistic and sustainable solutions. Some of the information nonprofit organizations could share includes emergency social agency contacts, lists of donors, public partner associates, service providers, beneficiaries and hospital officials, she said.

She said the study’s results concluded that although informal communication was present, there weren’t any formal collaboration among nonprofits with similar missions.

“Collaboration across sectors to create awareness and provide effective services could save time and money for these organizations,” Bezboruah said.

The research also showed that while all nonprofits were actively seeking to make health services more affordable and accessible, some people without health insurance continued to visit emergency rooms of hospitals to treat more common illnesses. Many of these people were undocumented immigrants.

“When the government made it clear that nonprofits couldn’t provide health care services to them with government grants, they were funneled into emergency rooms,” Bezboruah said. “That spikes the cost of health care since it costs less to treat minor illnesses in doctors’ offices and clinics than in emergency rooms.”

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive institution of more than 33,300 students and more than 2,200 faculty members in the heart of North Texas. It is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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