New study will look at the differences a universal basic income may make in the health of Black men

By: Stacy Ryburn 

FAYETTEVILLE — A research team in Central Arkansas will spend the next five years studying the impact of structural racism and discrimination on the health of Black men in the state, Fayetteville’s health board heard Wednesday.

The board of local medical doctors and health professionals heard from Dr. Brooke Montgomery with the Southern Public Health and Criminal Justice Research Center of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Montgomery is overseeing a five-year study paid for through a $5 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Disparities.

The study will look at the differences a universal basic income may make in the health of Black men with and without past experiences in incarceration. There will be 530 participants divided into two groups. One of the groups will receive $500 per month over six months, totaling $3,000, compared to a control group with only payment for participation. Reimbursement for participation in the study will be $285.

The goal is to address complex health, economic and justice-related burdens faced by Black men, Montgomery said. Researchers will collect data on the men’s use of health care services over time. Health care providers also will be interviewed about perceptions related to a universal basic income and health care service use for chronically ill, low-income, older Black men with and without a history of incarceration.

“Our S-PAC group is all about things that are sustainable, things that are action-oriented,” Montgomery said. “We don’t want to do things for the sake of writing a paper. We want to do things that inform policy, so that policy is more evidence-based.”

Participants must identify as Black men and be diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer or HIV. Men without HIV must be at least 45 years old, and those who live with HIV must be at least 25 years old. Participants must stay in Central Arkansas for the duration of the study period. The men also must have not received health care services within the past year, and annual income cannot exceed 400% the federal poverty threshold.

Board of Health members asked questions about the details of the study and said they looked forward to the results. Montgomery said the recruiting period for participants will end in 2026, with follow-up research wrapping in 2027.

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