We are happy to announce that InCHIP’s Training and Development Core will be holding a year-long Grant Writing Boot Camp. The Boot Camp will begin on Monday, September 18th from 12-1PM and will consist of 10 sessions across the academic year.
All ten sessions will take place on Mondays from 12-1PM on the following dates:
*In the interim between 3/5 and 4/9 we will hold meetings between participants and grant writing experts who will give them feedback on their proposal as it stands at that point.
Who should attend: This series is designed for faculty who conduct health-related research. Faculty who want to pursue external funding and who are committed to writing a grant proposal during this academic year are encouraged to participate.
What to expect: With structured guidance, over the course of the year you will write the various sections of your grant and receive feedback from fellow participants and InCHIP investigators with grant writing expertise. By the end of the 10-session Boot Camp, you will have a solid grant proposal that is ready to be submitted to an external agency.
The first annual UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health Encore Conference will be held at the Lyceum Conference Center in Hartford on Monday, September 18, 2017, from 4-6 p.m.
The CSCH Encore conference provides an opportunity for participants to learn about work related to school and/or child health that affiliates have presented previously at an external conference. The event will include a poster “encore” session (meaning presenters share work they have already presented in another setting) and active networking. There will be a special opportunity to participate in an on-the-spot seed grant competition for up to $8,000. Refreshments will be provided.
The event is open to all people that are CSCH affiliates (faculty, postdocs, students, community partners) by the time of the event. If you plan to attend, please complete this registration form no later than Wednesday, September 6, 2017.
If you would like to submit a poster presentation, you must complete the registration form and indicate that you would like to present a poster by the due date. We have up to 40 spaces available for posters, which will be accepted on a first come basis. Posters must be no larger than 24” (height) by 36” (width).
“Redlining” is the illegal discriminatory practice of denying services to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic composition of those areas, and it is most commonly associated with the banking, insurance, and real estate industries. In a less common use of the concept, InCHIP Principal Investigator Debarchana Ghosh, PhD (Geography) and her graduate student Mengyao Zhang, examined how “supermarket redlining” has limited the access that residents of Hartford’s low-income neighborhoods have to fresh nutritious foods.
“Supermarket redlining” is a term used to describe a phenomenon where major chain supermarkets are disinclined to locate their stores in inner cities or low-income neighborhoods and move their existing stores out of those locations and relocate them to suburbs. The reasons for supermarket redlining are many and varied including lower demand; the higher cost of urban land, labor, and utilities; lower profit margins associated with perishable foods; the risk of theft in inner cities; the challenge of finding locations big enough to accommodate a new building of 50,000 square feet or more; and competition from other investments, such as the plan for a new $60 million baseball stadium that the city of Hartford chose to pursue instead of a new grocery store at the same location.
Ghosh and Zhang used a combination of quantitative data analysis and Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology to study the relationship between geography or “location” and healthy food access in Hartford. They chose to study this practice because there is limited empirical data on the health impact of supermarket redlining. The findings from this study were published in 2016 in Transactions in GIS, and according to Dr. Ghosh, it is the first study to use potential spatial supermarket “redlining” as an indicator of risk for food insecurity and “food deserts” (locations where affordable and healthy food is difficult to access).
Rather than focus on a particular racial or ethnic group, Ghosh and Zhang examined all low-income people with limited access to affordable healthy food in Hartford. The primary focus of their research was on the spatial segregation or discrimination caused by chain supermarkets either closing or relocating to the suburbs. Ghosh and Zhang first calculated a “Supermarket Redlining Index” (SuRI) from five indicators to rank supermarkets in order of importance. These indicators included sales volume, employee count, acceptance of food coupons from the SNAP and WIC government assistance programs, and the size and population density of the service area. To understand the effects of supermarket closures, they next built a Supermarket Redlining Impact Model (SuRIM) using 11 indicators describing both socioeconomic and food access vulnerabilities, the interaction of which identified neighborhoods maximally impacted by spatial supermarket redlining.
The results of the study mapped critical areas of inner city Hartford where, if a nearby supermarket were to close down or relocate to the suburbs, large numbers of minority poor and disadvantaged residents would have difficulty accessing food, leading to food insecurity and perhaps a food desert. “These are the areas in the northwest of the city, basically upper downtown and north of downtown,” Dr. Ghosh explained, “…that are really critical in terms of becoming food deserts. We found out there will be a real problem in terms of accessing nutritious food and that efforts will be needed to reduce the impact of larger supermarket closures.” According to a Federal Government survey, there has been a steady rise in the percentage of households in Connecticut with food insecurity, from 7.6% in 2000-2002 to 13.4% in 2010-2012. Of those households, 36.6 percent were considered at a critical level of food insecurity. In Harford, 11 of the city’s 13 supermarkets – 85% – left the city between 1968 and 1984, and few supermarkets have opened to replace them.
Residents that live in neighborhoods where there is a cluster of large supermarkets in close proximity are less vulnerable to food insecurity when a supermarket closes or relocates, but these neighborhoods tend to be more affluent suburban neighborhoods (e.g., northwest of West Hartford, Newington, south of Wethersfield). In low-income neighborhoods, there are few supermarket options, so when a supermarket closes, only those residents who have the resources to travel the extra miles to an alternate supermarket are less vulnerable to food insecurity. Given that supermarket chains are unlikely to invest in opening new stores in these areas, mitigation efforts to minimize food insecurity and relative negative health outcomes are critical. Ghosh and Zhang’s recommendations for improving access in these neighborhoods include investing more in fresh food stocks at the existing local medium- to small-sized grocery stores and corner stores, and encouraging more urban farms and community gardens to increase options for healthy foods for at least a few months of the year.
Across the United States, the rates of college students experiencing psychological difficulties such as anxiety, panic attacks, and severe stress have greatly increased. Students juggle a myriad of demands, including financial responsibilities, school-work-life balance, parental expectations, and the pressure of career decisions, all while undergoing the challenging transition into independence and self-sufficiency.
Professor of Psychological Sciences and InCHIP Principal Investigator Crystal Park, PhD has long been interested in the broad mental health and well-being of college students and the variety of strategies that can be undertaken when coping with stress. In recent years, she has also been investigating mind-body relationships, particularly the science of yoga and its impact on physical and mental health.
Dr. Park’s forthcoming article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Research combines these two interests in an examination of the use of yoga by college-aged women as an effective coping strategy for stress. She worked collaboratively on this study with a team of researchers that included Co-Investigator Linda Pescatello, PhD, FACSM (Kinesiology); UConn graduate students Kristen Riley, Tosca Braun, Ji Yeon Jung, Hyungyung G. Suh; and University of Miami colleague, Michael Antoni, PhD. Together they examined the feasibility and differential efficacy of yoga and Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management (CBSM) in reducing stress and improving mental and physical health in first-year college students. Yoga is increasingly popular as a health-promoting activity, but little research has examined how it affects college students. CBSM is a short-term therapeutic approach that focuses on how people’s thoughts affect their emotions and behaviors.
Thirty-four incoming first-year female students were assigned to eight weeks of yoga, CBSM, or a wait-list control. Participants were assessed prior to the start of the intervention, at the conclusion of the 8-week intervention, and then four months after it ended. The results indicated that relative to the control group, both CBSM and yoga produced positive changes in psychosocial and behavioral health as well as in health-related measures of physical function and activity. Although yoga was rated as more helpful by the participants than CBSM when assessed immediately after the intervention, both methods were perceived as equally helpful at the four-month follow-up. Most importantly, both interventions appeared to offer benefits to first semester, first-year women in the midst of a major life transition when stress is high and opportunities to establish healthy lifestyle and coping patterns are readily available.
“I think the bottom line is that both interventions relative to control were useful,” said Park. “These kinds of inexpensive, easy-to-implement programs should be more available to incoming college students…. I know the effects of stress on people and the toll that it takes mentally and physically. People have problems sleeping and with academics. There are so many ways that stress negatively impacts people, so the notion that there is something relatively easy to implement and that is readily disseminated, I think that would reach of a lot of people and potentially do a lot of good in terms of preventive mental and physical health. That’s ultimately where I would like to see this go.”
Researchers have been testing campus stress management programs for decades, but most of those programs have been based on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy principles and designed to help individuals identify and modify dysfunctional beliefs that trigger distress. Yoga is another method of stress-management that is becoming increasingly popular among college students in the U.S., but rarely have its health benefits been studied in that population. This study is one of the first to demonstrate yoga’s potential with college students as a stress management measure.
“We are getting people right when they are coming to campus, so they had not been identified as being at particularly high risk of having other problems,” stated Dr. Park. “I think this suggests that being proactive can be very helpful for people who are facing potentially stressful situations.”
Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice and InCHIP Principal Investigator (PI) Tom Buckley, MPH, RPh has had a career path that is anything but conventional. Prior to joining the UConn faculty about 10 years ago, Buckley monitored public health outcomes for a major pharmaceutical company. He left that job to return as a volunteer to a refugee camp near the Thailand/Burma border, where he had previously completed a fellowship with the International Refugee Committee – the second of four trips to Southeast Asia to work with refugees.
Dr. Buckley’s prior work with refugees had a profound impact on his research, which focuses predominantly on healthcare equity and health disparities among immigrants/refugees and other underserved populations in the U.S. Approximately half of his research is with Khmer Health Advocates, the only Cambodian-American health organization in the country, and the other half is with community pharmacies in Connecticut, where he has created a community pharmacy practice research network.
At Khmer Health, Buckley is applying what he learned working with Burmese refugees to help the Cambodian immigrant and refugee community in Connecticut and throughout the country, many of whom struggle with the effects of trauma and torture. Located in West Hartford, Khmer Health had never had a pharmacist before Buckley’s arrival, and he quickly saw an opportunity to help clients better manage the many medications they were taking for diabetes, hypertension and other conditions linked to their post-traumatic stress. The prevalence of depression and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in the Cambodian-American immigrant/refugee population is more than 10 times the national average, and they experience rates of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke and death from diabetic complications at a rate six times greater than the overall population. With the help of grants from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health, Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH), and private foundations, Buckley has expanded his public health work to include a host of initiatives within refugee communities.
One of Dr. Buckley’s initiatives involved creating a clinical rotation for fourth-year pharmacy students at KHA that pairs them with Cambodian-American community health workers for client home visits and to a Buddhist Temple in Bristol to visit with monks. He also was the PI on a study funded through the Center for Technology and Aging that tested the effectiveness of teleconferencing and other technologies in connecting older Cambodian-Americans living in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California with medication therapy management services at Khmer Health Advocates.
Currently, Dr. Buckley is collaborating with Julie Wagner, Associate Professor of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences at UConn Health and an InCHIP PI, on a study aimed at preventing the onset of diabetes in Cambodian Americans with pre-diabetes. Along with intensive medication management, participants in two of the three arms of the so-called DREAM study will be offered a culturally-formulated lifestyle intervention called Eat, Walk, Sleep. They are recruiting adult Cambodian-Americans with major depressive disorder and associated functional impairment at high risk for Type 2 diabetes, from a network of community-based organizations in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The goal of the study, which will offer some participants home visits and visits via teleconferencing, is to determine if combined strategies reduce the risk for diabetes in a population with numerous diabetes risk factors related to depression.
Dr. Buckley is also working with Megan Berthold, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work and an InCHIP PI, on a grant project with KHA to specifically identify health equity issues and barriers in Southeast Asian Limited English speaking patients. Using surveys, interviews, and focus groups with community members and healthcare professionals, the goal is to develop policy initiatives to directly address health equity issues in these communities.
As for community pharmacies, Dr. Buckley currently has three projects funded through grants from the CDC and CT DPH. One of the grants will provide the funding for pharmacists to provide comprehensive medication management for patients with complex chronic conditions, including diabetes and hypertension. The pharmacist will spend an hour with the patient and then follow up with him/her.
Another study, conducted in partnership with Optimus Health Care and Bridgeport Pharmacy, focuses on screening African American mostly men, for hypertension. Funded with a grant from the CDC, through the Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations (ASTHO), this study sent trained Community Health Workers (CHWs) into barbershops, car washes, churches, and laundromats to conduct screenings. Armed with tablets and blood pressure cuffs, the CHWs took blood pressure measurements and registered participants with previously undiagnosed high blood pressure to see a doctor at Optimus Health Care. For the vast majority of these individuals, it was the first time they had seen a physician. As part of that study, Dr. Buckley worked with Optimus and the pharmacy to identify individuals already diagnosed and previously treated for high blood pressure but whose blood pressure was currently uncontrolled. “The pharmacist brought those people into the pharmacy, and they were able to get 80% of them to blood pressure goal,” he said.
Buckley often tells his students that pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals but are often underutilized for their professional expertise. “You can walk into one of these pharmacies and theoretically get free medication information,” he said. “Data shows that there are more than 300 million visits to pharmacies in the U.S. every week. So if the pharmacist is truly the most accessible healthcare provider,… how do we get underserved people with the least access to appropriate care – whether it’s culturally or linguistically appropriate care, or just care in general for the English-speaking population – how do we get them linked to that resource which is so accessible and valuable but underutilized?”
The UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH) is pleased to announce and congratulate the two awardees of our FY17 seed grant competition. These grants provide funds to investigators to support projects that align with the vision of CSCH to promote an integrated approach to health and learning through collaborations across the components within the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model. They are intended for projects that can lead to innovative external grant applications. Eligible applicants were InCHIP members, with CSCH affiliation. Drs. Amy Mobley and Marlene Schwartz are the recipients of the $10,000 grants.
Dr. Amy Mobley, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, and her co-investigators are studying the impact of local foods on elementary school students’ nutrition behaviors. The first phase of the project will determine the salient reasons that may motivate elementary school students’ to choose to eat local foods in their school. The second phase of the project will involve evaluating a local food procurement intervention on students’ nutrition health behaviors in low socioeconomic schools in Connecticut.
InCHIP’s Community-Engaged Health Research Core is very excited to announce that we will be offering a workshop on Cross-Cultural and Diversity Inclusiveness for Researchers.
The training will take place on:
Thursday May 18th 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM in Room 204 of the Ryan Building at UConn Storrs.
Breakfast will be provided at 8:30 AM (vegetarian/vegan and gluten free options included)
Due to the interactive nature of this event, the workshop is limited to 23 people. Reservations are required, so SIGN UP NOW!
This training will help each of us examine our own attitudes and assumptions about individuals and communities who have identities, experiences, and beliefs different from our own. And it will expand the skills that we need to effectively work together with individuals and communities on addressing important public health issues through research.
We are very excited that this training will be provided by Grace Damio, MS CD/N, who is the Director of Research and Training at the Hispanic Health Council In Hartford. She has extensive experience conducting this training, and she has worked for many years with University researchers and with communities in Hartford.
The Hispanic Health Council’s Cross-Cultural & Diversity Inclusiveness (CC&DI) Training Program was established in 2003, and has since been tailored to train over 2,000 participants of diverse backgrounds. In 2013-2014, HHC partnered with the Connecticut Hospital Association, St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, University of Connecticut Health Center, The Hospital of Central Connecticut, State of Connecticut Department of Education/Support for Pregnant and Parenting Teens Program, and CT-RI Public Health Training Center at Yale School of Public Health, to train over 500 participants.
InCHIP’s Training and Development Core is very excited to announce that our Team Science Summit will take place on May 11th!
For those unfamiliar with the term, according to the National Cancer Institute “Team science is a collaborative effort to address a scientific challenge that leverages the strengths and expertise of professionals trained in different fields. Although traditional single-investigator driven approaches are ideal for many scientific endeavors, coordinated teams of investigators with diverse skills and knowledge may be especially helpful for studies of complex social problems with multiple causes.”
The event will draw on the expertise of Dr. Kara Hall, a Health Scientist, Director of the Science of Team Science (SciTS) Team, and Director of the Theories Initiative in the Health Behaviors Research Branch (HBRB) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr Hall is one of the preeminent leaders in the Science of Team Science field.
The Team Science Summit will take on May 11th and will consist of:
9AM-12PM Workshop on Strategies in Team Science: Planning for Successful Collaborations. Breakfast will be served. (Maximum 40 participants)
2-3PM Kara Hall: “The Science of Team Science: Enhancing to Improve the Success of Cross-Disciplinary Science” (Keynote)
Both events will take place in Room 204 of the Ryan Building. Please click here for directions to InCHIP.
The Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee is composed of 17 nationally recognized experts in the fields of physical activity and health. Dr. Linda Pescatello, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Kinesiology, is a member of the panel and has been featured in a recent blog post. On the Committee, Dr. Pescatello serves as the as a member of the Cardiometabolic Health and Weight Management and Individuals with Chronic Conditions Subcommittees. Click here to read more.