Drive Out Racism and Invigorating Equity (D.R.I.V.E.) Study

July 11, 2024

Structural racism/discrimination (SRD) encompasses the societal structures and policies that reduce access to resources and opportunities for historically marginalized communities. While it is recognized that SRD is a fundamental determinant of health disparities, the relationships among the many community-level factors that influence the impact of SRD on health and wellness and how these factors intersect with individual experiences are poorly understood. Milwaukee County is the most racially diverse and segregated metropolitan areas in the United States and the first to recognize SRD as a public health issue. Health inequity in Milwaukee disproportionately affects Black community members, significantly impacting the health of the whole state.

The Drive Out Racism and Invigorating Equity (D.R.I.V.E.) Study was led by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, and the Social Development Commission (SDC), the largest community action agency in Wisconsin, committed to empowering people with the resources to move beyond poverty.

Using the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) research framework based on the socioecological model of health, the team applied advanced geospatial analytic approaches to examine the impact o fSRD on physical and mental health. The overall goal was to identify geographic heterogeneity in the influence of discriminatory factors on health measures enabling the identification of potential risk and resilience factors (Aim 1).

The team also examined the cumulative impact of structural and interpersonal discrimination, and individual experiences and behaviors, on physical and mental health (Aim 2).

The project is highly innovative in that it was the first to explore relationships among structural, neighborhood, and individual level factors that influence health and resilience in the same model, in some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Wisconsin. Moreover this was the seminal study of the SDC's Institute on Poverty and Systemic Racism (IPSR) in collaboration with the MCW, UWM, and MU academic partners.

The D.R.I.V.E. study was supported by a grant from the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Foundation.

For more information and results from this study, read the following white papers: