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Recent Research Publications and Funding

  •  | April 1, 2005 6:00AM

     Objectives. We examined a community-based participatory diabetes intervention to identify facilitators of and barriers to sustained community efforts to address social factors that contribute to health. Methods. We conducted a case study description and analysis of the Healthy Eating and Exercising to Reduce Diabetes project in the theoretical context of a conceptual model of social determinants of health. Results. We identified several barriers to and facilitators of analysis of social determinants of a community-identified disease priority (in this case, diabetes). Barriers included prevailing conceptual models, which emphasize health behavioral and biomedical paradigms that exclude social determinants of health. Facilitating factors included (1) opportunities to link individual health concerns to social contexts and (2) availability of support from diverse partners with a range of complementary resources. Conclusions. Partnerships that offer community members tangible resources with which to manage existing health concerns and that integrate an analysis of social determinants of health can facilitate sustained engagement of community members and health professionals in multilevel efforts to address health disparities.

  •  | April 1, 2005 6:00AM

     Objectives. We evaluated the spatial accessibility of large "chain" supermarkets in relation to neighborhood racial composition and poverty.

    Methods. We used a geographic information system to measure Manhattan block distance to the nearest supermarket for 869 neighborhoods (census tracts) in metropolitan Detroit. We constructed moving average spatial regression models to adjust for spatial autocorrelation and to test for the effect of modification of percentage African American and percentage poor on distance to the nearest supermarket.

    Results. Distance to the nearest supermarket was similar among the least impoverished neighborhoods, regardless of racial composition. Among the most impoverished neighborhoods, however, neighborhoods in which African Americans resided were, on average, 1.1 miles further from the nearest supermarket than were White neighborhoods.

    Conclusions. Racial residential segregation disproportionately places African Americans in more-impoverished neighborhoods in Detroit and consequently reduces access to supermarkets. However, supermarkets have opened or remained open close to middle-income neighborhoods that have transitioned from White to African American. Development of economically disadvantaged African American neighborhoods is critical to effectively prevent diet-related diseases among this population.

  •  | April 1, 2005 6:00AM

     A critical review of the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, Nursing's Social Policy Statement, and Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice provides evidence that these documents present an inconsistent, ambiguous, and superficial conceptualization of social justice, and do not offer an adequate framework for nurses to address underlying issues that affect health outcomes. Despite expansive references to the historic role of nursing in social reform, the documents implicitly reinforce nursing practice directed toward the individual nurse-patient relationship and give short shrift to nursing models that endorse broad systems change intended to improve health.

  •  | March 1, 2005 6:00AM

     Reforming the public health infrastructure requires substantial system changes at the state level, including the reorganization of state agencies' plans, roles, and relationships with other sectors and communities. Beyond the limited time period of pilot programs and grants, how are these public health system changes to be sustained? Turning Point is an initiative of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to transform and strengthen the public health system. The 21 states participating in this initiative developed multisector partnerships to produce public health improvement plans and from these, chose one or more priorities for implementation. Reform efforts to strengthen the public health system occur within complex fiscal and political environments, however, and must cope with both uncertainty and turbulence in the process of implementing change. Turning Point state partners have developed a variety of approaches to the challenge of incorporating effective community collaborations as a permanent strategy for transforming public health systems. A qualitative, descriptive study design was used to analyze the strategies used by Turning Point state partnerships to meet the challenges of sustaining their system improvements. These strategies included: institutionalization within government, establishing "third sector" institutions, cultivating relationships with significant allies, and enhancing communication and visibility among multiple communities.

  •  | January 1, 2005 6:00AM

     Studies suggest that people construct their risk perceptions by using inferential rules called heuristics. The purpose of this study was to identify heuristics that influence perceived breast cancer risk. We examined 11 interviews from women of diverse ethnic/cultural backgrounds who were recruited from community settings. Narratives in which women elaborated about their own breast cancer risk were analyzed with Argument and Heuristic Reasoning Analysis methodology, which is based on applied logic. The availability, simulation, representativeness, affect, and perceived control heuristics, and search for a dominance structure were commonly used for making risk assessments. Risk assessments were based on experiences with an abnormal breast symptom, experiences with affected family members and friends, beliefs about living a healthy lifestyle, and trust in health providers. Assessment of the potential threat of a breast symptom was facilitated by the search for a dominance structure. Experiences with family members and friends were incorporated into risk assessments through the availability, simulation, representativeness, and affect heuristics. Mistrust in health providers led to an inappropriate dependence on the perceived control heuristic. Identified heuristics appear to create predictable biases and suggest that perceived breast cancer risk is based on common cognitive patterns.

  •  | January 1, 2005 6:00AM

    OBJECTIVE: Preterm infants are prone to hypothermia immediately following birth. Among other factors, excessive evaporative heat loss and the relatively cool ambient temperature of the delivery room may be important contributors. Most infants <29 weeks gestation had temperatures <36.4°C on admission to our neonatal unit (NICU). Therefore we conducted a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate the effect of placing these infants in polyurethane bags in the delivery room to prevent heat loss and reduce the occurrence of hypothermia on admission to the NICU. METHODS: After parental consent was obtained, infants expected to be <29 weeks gestation were randomized to intervention or control groups just prior to their birth. Infants randomized to the intervention group were placed in polyurethane bags up to their necks immediately after delivery before being dried. They were then resuscitated per NRP guidelines, covered with warm blankets, and transported to the NICU, where the bags were removed and rectal temperatures were recorded. Control infants were resuscitated, covered with warm blankets, and transported without being placed in polyurethane bags. Delivery room temperatures were recorded so this potentially confounding variable could be assessed. RESULTS: Intervention patients were less likely than control patients to have temperature < 36.4°C on admission , 44 vs 70% (p<0.01) and the intervention group had a higher mean admission temperature, 36.5°C vs 36.0°C (p<0.003). This effect remained significant (p<0.0001) when delivery room temperature was controlled in analysis. Warmer delivery room temperatures (26°C) were associated with higher admission temperatures in both intervention and control infants, but only the subgroup of intervention patients born in warmer delivery rooms had a mean admission temperature >36.4°C. CONCLUSIONS: Placing infants <29 weeks gestation in polyurethane bags in the delivery room reduced the occurrence of hypothermia and increased their NICU admission temperatures. Maintaining warmer delivery rooms helped but was insufficient in preventing hypothermia in most of these vulnerable patients without the adjunctive use of the polyurethane bags.


  •  | January 1, 2005 6:00AM

     Patterns of mental health are clearly associated with life circumstances, including educational and economic opportunities, access to safe and supportive neighborhoods, socially structured exposures to stressors and to supportive relationships. In this article, we examine the social and economic correlates of depressive symptoms among African American women residing within a predominantly African American urban neighborhood in Detroit, USA, with relatively few economic resources. We identify distinct stressors associated with financial strain, neighborhood social disorder (concern about police responsiveness, safety stress), and experiences of discrimination. We test the extent to which each of these stressors mediates relationships between household income, length of residence in the neighborhood, social support and depressive symptoms. Our results suggest that for women in this racially segregated area with a high concentration of poverty, relationships between household income and symptoms of depression are partially mediated by financial stress and social support, but that stressors associated with neighborhood disorder and discrimination influence depressive symptoms independent of household income. Furthermore, we find that length of residence in the neighborhood is negatively associated with financial stress and positively associated with police stress and social support, with no significant net effect on symptoms of depression. We conclude that higher household income may help reduce symptoms of depression by reducing financial stress and strengthening social support even within neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty. However, increased household income does not protect African American women residing in a high poverty community from distress associated with neighborhood disorder or experiences of discrimination.

  •  | January 1, 2005 6:00AM

     We conducted a three-year longitudinal study of the mental and physical health of a national probability sample following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Adjustment over the three years following the attacks was associated with higher levels of future-oriented thinking and lower levels of fear about future terrorism (as measured 1, 2, and 3 years post-9/11), even after adjusting for demographics, lifetime trauma, pre-9/11 mental and physical health, and 9/11-related exposure. Future orientation over the three years post-9/11 was associated with fewer pre-9/11 mental health problems, greater frequency of adulthood trauma, and using active coping strategies in response to the attacks. Fear of future terrorism was associated with greater frequency of adulthood trauma, more television watching immediately after the attacks, and using more planning and religion-based coping strategies immediately following the attacks. Thinking about the future can be a double-edged sword: Worrying about future terrorism may undermine well-being, whereas focusing on future goals may enhance it when coping with stressful events like the September 11th attacks.

  •  | May 1, 2004 4:00AM

     Reforms in the public health infrastructure such as those called for in recent Institute of Medicine reports require stakeholder engagement on different levels than traditional grass-roots community work. The Turning Point Initiative, funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, involves 21 state-wide partnerships established for systems change and focused in specific areas of public health innovation and policy development. These partnerships represent a different model of strategic alliances and relationship-building than has been previously described in the literature on community-level and health-promotion collaborations. This article utilizes qualitative data to illustrate the ways in which state-level partnerships for systems change both confirm and extend previous models. Findings indicate that state-level public health partnerships share many of the challenges and opportunities of locally-based and health-promotion-oriented partnerships. Collaboration at the state level, however, involves more attention to organizational alliances, coordination of institutional change, and strategic responses to political changes. These partnerships depend on a combination of interpersonal skills, material resources, and organizational savvy to manage complex planning and implementation processes. Influencing policy development and organizational redesign in public health systems requires nuanced understanding of the opportunities provided by various kinds of organizational partners

  •  | April 1, 2004 6:00AM

     BACKGROUND: Perceived risk is a principal variable in theoretical models that attempt to predict the adoption of health-protective behaviors.

    METHODS: This meta-analysis synthesizes findings from 42 studies, identified in PubMed and PsycInfo from 1985 onward. Studies examined demographic and psychological variables as predictors of perceived breast cancer risk and the relationship between perceived risk and breast cancer screening. Statistical relationships, weighted for sample size, were transformed to effect sizes and 95% CIs.

    RESULTS: Women do not have accurate perceptions of their breast cancer risk (N = 5561, g = 1.10). Overall, they have an optimistic bias about their personal risk (g = 0.99). However, having a positive family history (N = 70660, g = 0.88), recruitment site, and measurement error confounded these results. Perceived risk is weakly influenced by age (N = 38000, g = 0.13) and education (N = 1979, g = 0.16), and is moderately affected by race/culture (N = 2192, g = 0.38) and worry (N = 6090, g = 0.49). There is an association between perceived risk and mammography screening (N = 52766, g = 0.19). It is not clear whether perceived risk influences adherence to breast self-examination. Women who perceived a higher breast cancer risk were more likely to pursue genetic testing or undergo prophylactic mastectomy.

    CONCLUSION: Perceived breast cancer risk depends on psychological and cognitive variables and influences adherence to mammography screening guidelines.