Online Program

“having our say: Lessons learned from black women living in poor and underserved community about how to improve health promotion and service utilization

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Michelle Laws, MA, PhD student, Department of Social and Behavioral Health, VCU School of Medicine, Department of Social and Behavioral Health, Richmond, VA
BACKGROUND: Often historically marginalized populations (e.g. poor African American women) are considered in the context of public health research subjects and recipients of services and rarely as research partners who can contribute significantly to the design of health services and interventions. The exclusion of women from poor communities at the front end of the research process can often lead to ineffective interventions and health promotion policies and can result in little or no effect in terms of creating positive change in health behaviors. Poor women are often situated at the intersection where poverty, environment, and behavior merge to create health disparities across the disease spectrum and as a result, their perspectives can prove invaluable in the design of effective health promotion policies and interventions for poor and under-served populations. Method: Using survey (n=105) and focus group (n=15) data from a study of black women living in a public housing community in an urban city (VA), this study examined the health behaviors, beliefs and attitudes of poor black women associated with high rates of STIs and marginal utilization of a community-based health clinic. RESULTS: The major findings from this study support the need for more tailored health interventions and health promotion policies that are created through a community-engaged or CBPR process; and the importance of a blended health services that include public and mental health services. The results also underscore the important role that cultural norms play on how health risks are conceptualized and health protective behaviors are adapted.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the different sociocultural factors that influence the health behaviors and perceived health risks of African American women living in a public housing community Discuss the role that social support networks, cultural beliefs and norms play in influencing health behaviors and perceptions about health risks among African American women living in in a public housing community. Identify the challenges and benefits of getting public housing residents to utilize the services of a community-based public health clinic situated within a public housing community. Demonstrate the importance of engaging poor women at the design phase of public health interventions and services as a method of improving effectiveness and service utilization.

Keyword(s): African American, Community-Based Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Prior to returning to graduate school to pursue my PhD,I worked for more than a decade as a social scientist and advocate for poor women and children. I have worked on multiple research projects to improve health outcomes for poor women and blacks covering a range of issues including HIV/AIDS, obesity, tobacco use prevention, and mental illness. Most of my scholarship focuses on engaging poor and African American populations through faith-based initiatives and community-engaged research.
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.