Category Archives: Human Capital

Nov 2 2012

Overcoming Barriers to Achieve Health Equity With Latino Communities

Economic constraints cause many Latinos to settle in low-income neighborhoods that have limited access to affordable healthy food options, playgrounds and parks, and pedestrian and bike-friendly streets. Instead, these neighborhoods have fast food restaurants that offer primarily nutrient poor food and, limited resources for rec­reation which limit physical activity options.

“Latinos will tell you it’s too hard to get fruits and vegetables,” Said Dr. George R. Flores, MD, MPH, Board of Directors, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California at APHA 2012. “Inequality in the social and physical environments in Latino communities contributes to the obesity epidemic by failing to provide opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity.”

Latino populations on average have some of the highest rates of obesity, which can have the severe consequence of type 2 diabetes. The diets of Latino children are higher in fat and lower in fruits and vegetables.

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Oct 31 2012

Recommended Reading: Living and Learning at APHA

To follow is an excerpt of a blog post by Myra Parker, JD, PhD, is acting instructor at the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors at the University of Washington and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Connections grantee, about her experiences at the APHA Annual Meeting.

I took my seven-year-old daughter to help me pick up my registration materials at the Moscone Center. I was thrilled to map the American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian (AI/AN/NH) sessions and discover they are located in one of the central buildings this year! It’s terrific to be able to attend the general sessions AND those specific to my community, which has not always been the case with AI/AN/NH sessions held in off-site hotels last year in Washington, D.C.


I was excited to see the diversity of attendees across many different professional backgrounds and ethnic/cultural communities.


My first session, since I am working on an evaluation of a tribal home visitation grant funded under the Affordable Care Act through the Administration for Children and Families, was Protecting the Health of Our Children and Families – Examples of Maternal and Child Health in Indigenous Communities. It was standing room only!! The first presenter focused on a national campaign to raise awareness about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome within AI/AN communities, entitled: Lessons from designing a campaign to address infant mortality among urban American Indians and Alaska Natives, by Shira P. Rutman, MPH and Crystal Tetrick, MPH. Being in Seattle and being Native, of course I am aware of the groundbreaking work done at the Urban Indian Health Institute based at the Seattle Indian Heallth Center. It was a treat to hear about one of their efforts and you can learn more here:

>>Read the full post over on RWJF's Human Capital blog.

Oct 29 2012

APHA 2012: Trust and Communication Improve Diabetes Outcomes in African Americans

To follow is an excerpt of a conversation with Monica Peek, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar and grantee, who presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting about new research exploring the value of high quality doctor-patient relationships on health outcomes and cost of care.

As a little girl, Monica Peek often went to the doctor with her grandmother, Mae Reather Long. On those visits to the clinic, she recalls, “my grandmother, who had diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, would listen patiently to her doctor’s advice. He would advise her to ‘eat healthy.’  She would politely answer that she had been doing so, and that was that.” Her grandmother’s physician didn’t realize that “yes, I’m eating healthy” most likely meant vegetables prepared southern style—with smoked ham.  Or that Peek’s grandmother really wanted more time to discuss her medications and how to take them, but she was afraid to ask.

At a presentation at the October 2012 American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting, Peek, who is now an MD, MPH, and diabetes specialist, taught other health care providers how to avoid this type of disconnect with their patients and harness the tremendous power of culturally appropriate communication.  Peek’s research, along with her award-winning film on shared decision making between physician and patient and her ongoing work at the South Side diabetes project in Chicago, grew, in part, out of those early lessons learned by her grandmother’s side.


Peek and her colleagues have been investigating the behaviors that encourage share decision making since 2008, with a focus on African Americans, though Peek suggests her findings are also applicable to other ethnic or cultural groups struggling with diabetes. She found that while African American patients wanted to participate in SDM, they were much less likely to be asked by their physicians to engage in it than non-Hispanic Whites.  

>>Read the full interview with Monica Peek.
>>Read reflections on APHA 2012 from an RWJF scholar.
>>Watch the award-winning film: Shared Decision Making: The Importance of being Actively Involved in Your Health Care.

Aug 30 2012

Matthew Nisbet Q&A: Framing Public Health Issues

Matthew Nisbet, American University Matthew Nisbet, American University

Environmental issues are consistently a topic of hot debate. A new study reveals that how we talk about these issues could have a big impact on whether people feel compelled to act on them. According to new research led by two awardees of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Matthew C. Nisbet, PhD, MS, and Edward W. Maibach, PhD, MPH, talking about the environmental consequences of climate change may not convince the unconvinced—while talking about the public health consequences might have a better chance.

As the American University and George Mason University professors write in a newly published study in the journal Climatic Change Letters, “Results show that across audience segments, the public health focus was the most likely to elicit emotional reactions consistent with support for climate change mitigation and adaptation.”  The study was co-authored with Teresa Myers and Anthony Leiserowitz.

We caught up with Matthew Nisbet to get his take on the latest findings, and how the public health field can do a better job of framing issues in a way that motivates action.

NPH: What is message framing?

Matthew Nisbet: When you frame something as a communicator or as a journalist or as an expert, what you do is you emphasize one dimension of a complex issue over another, calling attention to certain considerations and certain arguments more so than other arguments. In the process, what you do is you communicate why an issue may or may not be a problem, who or what is responsible for that problem and then what should be done. One of the common misunderstandings about framing is that there can be something such as unframed information. Every act of communication, whether intentional or not, involves some type of framing.

NPH: Why is framing so important in communicating about public health issues?

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