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Engaging Community Residents in Assessing their Social and Physical Environments and their Implications for Health

Amy Schulz, PhD1, Barbara A. Israel, DrPH2, Lorena Estrada, MPH, Shannon N. Zenk, PhD4, Edna A. Viruell-Fuentes, MPH5, Antonia Villarruel, PhD6, and Carmen Stokes, NP7. (1) Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, School of Public Health, 5134 SPH II, 1420 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, 734-647-0221, ajschulz@umich.edu, (2) School of Public Health, University of Michigan, 1420 Washington Heights, Room M5031 SPH II, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, (3) Cancer Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, Health Research and Policy Centers, 850 W. Jackson Blvd. M/C 275, Chicago, IL 60607, (4) Health Behavior/Health Education, University of Michigan, 1520 McIntyre, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, (5) School of Nursing, University of Michigan, 400 N. Ingalls, Suite 3160, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, (6) University of Detroit Mercy, 14350 Warwick, Detroit, MI 48223

Engaging community members in efforts to understand and address contributions of the social and physical environments to health is a high priority for public health researchers and practitioners. In this presentation, we describe an innovative technique implemented by the Healthy Environments Partnership [funded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences R01 ES10936-01], a community-based participatory research project involving academic, public health and community partners in Detroit, Michigan. . We describe the adaptation of a “stress process exercise” initially developed by Israel and colleagues (1989) that engaged racially and ethnically diverse community residents in focused discussion of the effects of their environments on their health. The Healthy Environments Partnership (HEP) adapted the “stress process exercise” for use with focus groups that involved community residents in discussion of aspects of their social and physical environments and long-term implications of those environmental contexts for health, including both stressful and protective aspects of those environments. We describe specific modifications of this exercise for use as a focus group guide, as well as to enhance its applicability across diverse linguistic and cultural groups, and its sensitivity to neighborhood environmental exposures and resources. We present results from eight focus groups conducted with African American, white, and Hispanic residents of Detroit We close with a description of several potential applications of the stress process exercise in community health planning research and policy development.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Community Participation, Environmental Exposures

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Environment as Social Capital Affecting Health Status

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA