Category Archives: Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico

Jul 22 2014
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A Closer Look at Contributors to Stress for Latinos

Gabriel R. Sanchez, PhD, is an associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico (UNM), executive director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy at UNM, and director of research for Latino Decisions. Yajaira Johnson-Esparza is a PhD Candidate in the UNM department of psychology and an RWJF Fellow at the University. 

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A recent survey conducted by RWJF, NPR, and the Harvard School of Public Health focused our attention on the burdens that stress poses for Americans. We want to focus our attention in this blog post on factors that may be leading to stress among the Latino population. Although the experience of stress is very common, the experience and burden of stress is not uniform across people in the United States.

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One of the main findings that emerged from the recent RWJF/NPR/Harvard survey was the strong role of health problems in stress in the United States, with 27 percent of respondents noting that illness or disease was a major source of stress over the past year. In addition to the direct impact of being sick, the financial burdens associated with needing medical care can generate a lot of stress. We have found support for this finding in some of our own work at the UNM RWJF Center for Health Policy. For example, a recent survey we helped produce found that 28 percent of  Latino adults indicated that because of medical bills, they have been unable to pay for basic necessities like food, housing, or heat, with 40 percent indicating they have had trouble paying their other bills. The financial stress associated with illness can have a devastating impact on Latinos.

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Latinos in the United States also face unique stressors from other Americans due to their language use, nativity, and experiences with discrimination. Being followed in a store, being denied employment or housing, and being told that you do not speak English well can all lead to stress for Latinos.

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Apr 2 2014
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RWJF Milestones, April 2014

The following are among the many honors received recently by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, grantees and alumni:

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, RWJF’s senior advisor for nursing and director of its Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, has been named co-chair of the newly formed External Nurse Advisory Board (ENAB) for the Center for Nursing Advancement (CFNA) at UnitedHealth Group. The goal of the ENAB is to “inform, create and evolve nursing best practices, and advance the nursing profession.”

Angelina Jolie has signed on as executive producer of Difret, a film by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Mehret Mandefro, MD, MSc, AB. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award, then went on to receive the Audience Award at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. The film tells the story of a young Ethiopian girl who challenges the tradition of “telefa,” the practice of abduction in marriage, usually of young girls. Read more about Mandefro’s film.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has voted Juliann Sebastian, PhD, MSN, its president-elect. Sebastian, an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna, is dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing. She will serve as president of AACN from 2016 to 2018. The organization represents more than 740 nursing schools nationwide.

RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna Jacqueline Stevens, PhD, has been named a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow for the Humanities. Her fellowship is in U.S. History.

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Nov 1 2012
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Thoughts on the APHA Closing Session: In the End, It is All About Power

Robert Otto Valdez, PhD, is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) professor of family & community medicine and economics at the University of New Mexico. He serves as executive director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, a national program office for increasing diversity in health and health care leadership. This post is part of a series in which RWJF scholars, fellows and alumni who are attending the American Public Health Association annual meeting reflect on the experience.

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The 140th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the nation’s oldest gathering of public health professionals in the world, concluded yesterday as the San Francisco region celebrated the World Series victory of their beloved Giants.  Close to 13,000 public health professionals came together around the theme, Prevention and Wellness Across the Life Span.

The closing session focused on incarceration, justice, and health with a keynote speech by Angela Davis.  Our society has used mandatory sentencing and incarceration of Black and Latino young men and, more recently, immigrants as a form of social control that not only maintains the current social order but also contributes to the inequalities in health that result from inequitable society.

The kinds of mass incarceration costing some $70 to $100 billion a year has produced social inequalities that can be readily seen in the lives and families of the formerly incarcerated.  Bruce Western and Becky Pettit offered an insightful article in the Summer 2010 Daedalus that describes the creation of a group of social outcasts “who are joined by the shared experience of incarceration, crime, poverty, racial minority, and low education.”  These are all characteristics that contribute to social and economic disadvantage not only for those who were incarcerated but also their families.

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Oct 11 2012
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Human Capital News Roundup: Nurses' assessment of quality of care, climate change, domestic violence, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

A study led by RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Matthew McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, CRNP, finds that nurses are extremely accurate and reliable assessors of the quality of care in the hospitals in which they work. In the study, nurses’ reports of excellent quality care corresponded with higher levels of patient satisfaction, better scores for processes of care, and better results for patients in the hospital with regard to mortality and failure to rescue. Becker’s Hospital Review and Advance for Nurses are among the outlets to report on the findings. Read more about the study.

New Mexico Business Weekly reports that the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico has been recognized by the nonprofit Excelencia in Education as one of America’s top programs that is increasing academic opportunities for Latino students.

Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, CRNP, a Nurse Faculty Scholar, spoke to the Baltimore Sun about his research on drug-resistant bacteria and “whether MRSA eradication among people who are HIV positive should focus on the person's entire household, and not just the individual.”

NJ Spotlight reports on the work of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) to help address the state’s nurse and nurse faculty shortage. “The Nursing Initiative’s flagship program, the Faculty Prep Program, comprises 61 nurse scholars (nurses and doctoral-prepared nurses) who have committed to being nurse faculty in New Jersey,” the story reports.

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Oct 11 2012
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The Commodification of Health Care and the Search for a Universal Health Program in the United States

Howard Waitzkin, MD, PhD, is senior fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, as well as distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Sociology, and clinical professor in the Department of Medicine. He is an alumnus of the RWJF Clinical Scholars Program. Waitzkin recently received the American Sociology Association Medical Sociology Section's 2012 Eliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award for his new book, Medicine and Public Health at the End of Empire, from which the following blog post draws.

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For better or worse, we treat health care in the United States as a commodity. We buy and sell it, and would-be patients who don’t have enough money to buy it must either rely on limited public assistance or go without care. In very real terms, it’s not just health care that we have turned into a commodity, it’s health itself, so it should come as no surprise that poor Americans die sooner than affluent ones, by an average of close to five years.

I observed this dynamic up close for the first time about 40 years ago, while working as a primary care practitioner in the clinic system of the United Farm Workers (UFW) Union in the 1970s (which, for a time, my mentors in the RWJF Clinical Scholars Program viewed as my required activity in clinical medicine). As I treated hard-working patients living in unhealthy circumstances, it was easy to conclude that one does not need to travel outside the United States to find the so-called “Third World.” As I observed with many of the patients I treated while working with the UFW, the living conditions of the poor contribute to ill health.

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Oct 9 2012
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Meet the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico

This is part of a series introducing programs in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Portfolio. The RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico is working to increase the diversity of those with formal training in the fields of economics, political science and sociology who engage in health services and health policy research, and to become a nationally recognized locus for health policy research that will support work to inform health policy debates at multiple levels.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico is poised to have a far-reaching impact on the nation. The Center is the only institution dedicated to increasing the number of leaders from Latino and American Indian communities who will help shape the future of our nation’s health and health care.

At the heart of this work is the academic and professional development of its doctoral and post-doctoral fellows, a diverse group who are on their way to careers in health policy, academia, philanthropy, and health care financing and delivery systems. 

The Center is dedicated to preparing these future leaders through on-the-job research, policy analysis training, leadership development, and community capacity building. Through interdisciplinary research with health care professionals, and by partnering with other researchers and professional organizations, fellows pursue resolutions for complex policy issues affecting our nation’s health, especially in Latino and American Indian communities.

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Jul 20 2012
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How the Supreme Court's Health Reform Ruling May Affect the Latino Population

This is part of a series in which Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, grantees and alumni offer perspectives on the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the Affordable Care Act. Gabriel R. Sanchez, PhD, is an associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico, assistant director of the RWJF Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, and director of Research for Latino Decisions.

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The Supreme Court decision regarding the constitutionally of the signature policy victory of the Obama administration has been the most anticipated and hotly debated decision of the Court in recent memory. In the spirit of a prior Human Capital blog post I wrote back in November, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in this series by providing a perspective on how this decision will likely impact the Latino population.  I have been analyzing public opinion toward health care reform for some time now, and draw on some of this data to provide a few examples. I focus my attention here on some of the more intriguing relationships to emphasize the complexity of Latino’s views of this historic policy.

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Latinos had a lot at stake in this decision, as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is projected to expand insurance to 9 million Latinos. It is therefore not surprising that support for health care reform, and the ACA in particular, has been higher among Latinos when compared to non-Latinos. In fact, since Latino Decisions started collecting data in October 2011, on average 51 percent of Latinos have supported the ACA. Conversely, as reflected in the figure below, the percentage of Latino voters who want to repeal the law has been lower than what other polls have shown for the non-Latino population over this time period.

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Jun 21 2012
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Human Capital News Roundup: Income-based discrimination, nursing education, bans on sugary drinks, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

“As a physician, I have seen the tremendous capabilities of nurses – capabilities that are essential to meeting patient needs,” RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, writes in a June 14, 2012 post on MedScape Today [free subscription]. “But to ensure that they maximize their contributions to health and health care, nurses will need advanced skills and expertise in care management, interdisciplinary teamwork, problem solving, and more. This makes higher levels of education imperative. In addition, having a larger pool of highly educated nurses will be necessary to expand the ranks of nurse faculty, addressing the shortfall that now causes nursing schools to turn away thousands of qualified applicants each year. These advanced degree nurses are also needed to help ameliorate the worsening primary care shortage.” The piece was reprinted from Pediatric Nursing.

RWJF Health & Society Scholar Amy Non, PhD, MPH, is the lead author of a study that finds a significant association between low education levels and hypertension in African Americans. The findings debunk the theory that African ancestry plays a role in the disproportionately high rates of hypertension. U.S. News & World Report, Health magazine, and MSN Health are among the outlets to report on the findings. Read more about the study.

United Press International (UPI) and the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wis.) report on a study led by Thomas Fuller-Rowell, PhD, also a Health & Society Scholar, that finds social-class- and income-based discrimination harms child health. Read more about the study.

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Jun 18 2012
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Honors, Awards, Accomplishments...

The following are among the honors received recently by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars, fellows and grantees.

Several RWJF scholars were named to the 2012 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellows. They include: RWJF Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research recipients Amy Finkelstein, PhD, MPhil, and Joseph Fins, MD; RWJF Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program alumni Griffin Rodgers, MD, MACP, and Emery Brown, MD, PhD; and RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Vincent Hutchings, PhD.

Amy Finkelstein was also named the 2012 recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal in economics, regarded as economics’ most prestigious award. Read an RWJF Human Capital Blog post by Finkelstein.

Debra Ann Toney, PhD, MS, BSN, FAAN, an alumna of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program, is one of 22 Americans selected by Coca-Cola to carry the Olympic Flame in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. The torchbearers will carry the flame in and around Oxford, England, July 9 to 11 before the opening ceremony on July 27.

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Apr 19 2012
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Human Capital News Roundup: The physiology of hot flashes, diversity in health care, respiratory failure, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars, fellows and grantees. Some recent examples:

RWJF Community Health Leader alumnus Scott P. Charles wrote on op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer about how the youth he works with as trauma outreach coordinator for Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia resemble Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager killed in February. Charles leads the “Cradle to Grave” program, an intervention initiative he developed to prevent violence among inner city teens. To demonstrate the consequences of violence, Charles takes youth through a reenactment of the final day in the life of a 16-year-old multiple gunshot victim—from arrival at a trauma center to the moment the victim's body is taken to the morgue.

“About 70 percent of women experience hot flashes, but their underlying physiology isn't well understood,” RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Rebecca Thurston, PhD, told Health Day. Thurston is the lead author of a study that monitored the heart-rate variability of women, age 40 to 60, as they experienced hot flashes. The beat-to-beat changes in heart rate decreased significantly during a hot flash, the researchers found, “a sign that the parasympathetic nervous system isn't working as well as it normally does.”

On May 5, RWJF and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists will host a panel discussion on the importance of diversifying the nation's health and health care fields. RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna Wanda Montalvo, MSN, ANP, RN, will be one of the panelists. Montalvo chairs the National Diabetes Education Program, “an effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and more than 200 partners to develop strategies and interventions to improve the lives of people living with diabetes,” Salud Today reports.

Paul Kuehnert, MS, RN, CPNP, also an alumnus of the Executive Nurse Fellows program, is stepping down from his post as executive director of the Kane County (Ill.) Health Department to join RWJF as senior program officer and director of the public health team, the Kane County Chronicle and the Beacon News report.

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