222196 Launching a fish consumption and body burden study among Native Americans, Hispanics, and Micronesians

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 1:05 PM - 1:20 PM

Ann Backus, MS , School of Public Health EHSC Center, Harvard University, Boston, MA
Laurel Schaider, PhD , Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Rebecca Jim , L.E.A.D. Agency, Vinita, OK
Earl Hatley , L.E.A.D. Agency, Vinita, OK
The purpose of this presentation is to describe our approaches to engage three distinct ethnic groups, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Micronesians, in the design of a study to determine methylmercury exposure among subsistence fishers in northeastern Oklahoma. We will describe the use of focus groups as a strategy for a) incorporating information about the types of fish consumed, cooking techniques and other practices in order to develop a more culturally appropriate food frequency questionnaire; and b) for understanding their cultural perspectives and attitudes toward health effects arising from potential environmental contamination in order to ensure that the materials we develop to communicate risk and summarize our study results address their cultural perspectives in appropriate formats and media. In this rural locale, social justice is only served if minority and immigrant populations have the same opportunity to meet their needs for healthy food as their peers who do not have to, or do not choose to, subsistence fish; the same opportunity to learn about health risks as those who read and speak English; and an opportunity to use solid evidence to advocate for their own health if their body burden (in this case, of methylmercury) is higher than that of local non-minority populations. When traditional practices conflict with health promotion (e.g., fish consumption advisories), it is necessary to engage in dialogue around the social and cultural issues, not only to find effective ways to promote health, but also to preserve time-honored cultural traditions and bonds.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the use of the focus group as a social justice tool. 2. Describe the social justice-related complexities and importance of communicating to immigrant, low-literary, and minority populations the health risks and benefits of consuming fish including variations in kind and amount of contamination, type of fish, and preparation.

Keywords: Environmental Exposures, Minority Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a key person on the grant and working closely with the PI also listed.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.