Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center

The Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center (OKTEC) offers the highest quality services to the Tribes, Tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations (TTU’s) in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The OKTEC was established in 2005 upon receiving core funding from Indian Health Service (IHS) though a Cooperative Agreement with IHS Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention. This division provides oversight, administration and technical support for the OKTEC. The Epi Center provides public health services in epidemiology, data management, analysis, training, health promotion/disease prevention and research through outreach and partnerships. In 2010 the Affordable Care Act was permanently reauthorized, giving the TEC’s “public health authority” status by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The overall goal of the TEC grant is to offer services the OKTEC’s. The workplan includes eleven (11) objectives and numerous activities to accomplish the objectives. By listing a few that include evaluation and assessment services to area TTU’s; assist area TTU with health priority setting and health improvement planning; translating data into usable products through visual and messaging; collaboration with area TTU along with state and federal agencies to improve disease surveillance, tracking, and outbreak response; provide training and technical assistance to TTU specifically for behavioral health data collection and evaluation. Services include training, technical assistance (TA), capacity building, education, internships, program evaluation, and many other services. The purpose of the services offered is to focus on improved public health outreach, better health outcomes, reduced disease burden, and an overall increase in the health and wellness of our communities and Tribes.

  1. The TEC is hosting our 9th Annual Tribal Public Health Conference on April 11-13th at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, OK. We are working to make this year’s conference even better than last year by incorporating more tracks that help attendees acquire the knowledge they need to better address the health concerns of the Native American population they serve. We will be showcasing some new and exciting features that will help connect us all as we work towards “Public Health Evolution in Indian Country.”
  2. The SPTHB TEC have successfully developed and disseminated health specific data through Community Health Profiles (CHPs) based on Tribal and urban Indian community health status priorities. CHP’s for all 43 federally recognized Tribes that are served by the SPTHB have been created and have been disseminated in both electronic and printed hard copies. Presentations have already begun where SPTHB/OKTEC staff make site visits to tribes or coalitions of tribes to present on the CHP data and findings to garner feedback on what to include in the next iteration of CHP’s. So far, feedback has been very positive, all tribes visited have been excited to receive the CHP’s and look forward to working with the SPTHB/OKTEC to improve data quality as well as plan to work on improving health outcomes.
  3. Tribal BRFS fact sheets were developed to evaluate the health risks of AIAN populations to increase knowledge and data access for health priorities. This activity was successfully met through the entry, analysis, and creation of the Tribal Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (TBRFS) fact sheets that detailed AI/AN health disparities in the Southern Plains region (Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas). The TBRFS fact sheets identified several important health disparities for certain AI/AN populations. The fact sheets were designed for easy reading and understanding by community members without a health professional background. This helps to ensure that the information has a wide outreach to those we serve.

The Tribal Epi Center provides services to 44 federally recognized tribes in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas by providing epidemiological services, training/TA, community needs assessments, data analysis, curriculum development, cultural awareness training, tribal health survey development, health assessment development and geographical information system (GIS).

  1. The OKTEC was actively engaged in the Oklahoma Shared Clinical & Translational Resources (OSCTR) Pilot Project for investigating barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening among Choctaw Nation Elders. In collaboration with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Healthy Aging Program and Geriatric clinics the OKTEC collected data regarding barriers to colorectal cancer. TEC OSCTR Pilot Project Sub-recipient principal investigator presented on findings based on preliminary analysis of the survey data. Attendees included the External Advisory Committee of the OSCTR, all of the Key Component Leads and the pilot project principal investigators. Results can be used for planning and prevention efforts and results were submitted directly to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.


  1. TEC staff held a Second Wind Facilitator training at SPTHB in coordination with Muscogee Creek Nation Tobacco Prevention Program trainers. The eight I/T/U partners included Osage Nation, Cherokee Nation, Muscogee Creek Nation, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Health, Northeastern Travel Health System, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, and Cherokee County Tobacco Control program. This training created a greater understanding of commercial tobacco use and how it relates to cardiovascular disease and cancer utilizing culturally-appropriate educational training materials and resources. Attendees were provided training materials that can be modified to fit the specific Tribe. The evaluations were favorable for a knowledge increase in tobacco cessation/prevention and for gaining new skills that enabled participants to provide future cessation classes.

The TECgrant was awarded in 2005by the Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Services. The TEC was re-awarded in 2016.

Patricia Yarholar, TEC Grant Lead/Public Health Training Coordinator
Phone: (405) 652-9214
Fax: (405) 840-7052
Email: pyarholar@spthb.org