Online Program

Enhancing Ethiopian Youths' Literacy about the Gene x Environment Contributions to Health Using the Context of Podoconiosis

Monday, November 2, 2015

Caitlin Allen, MPH, Office of Community Health Workers, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Colleen McBride, PhD, Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education, Emory Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, GA
Gail Davey, Global Health, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, East Sussex, United Kingdom
Getnet Tadele, PhD, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Poor understanding of gene-environment contributors to health conditions can lead the public to misinterpretations that overemphasize genetics as determinants of health. Podoconiosis is caused when genetically susceptible individuals are exposed to irritant soil particles and offers a concrete context for identifying best practices in enhancing literacy regarding gene x environment contributions, which may be generalized to other health conditions. 

The goal for this project was to use mental model (MM) methodology to improve literacy regarding gene-environment contributors to podoconiosis as a model for other preventable health conditions.  MMs were developed by decision analysts as a convenient way to summarize information about uncertain decision situations. To develop the MM, a literature review was conducted to identify key concepts and processes by which genetics and environmental exposures contribute to health conditions. These key concepts were presented to four experts along with the question: “How would you explain the causes of podoconiosis to an adolescent living in a podoconiosis endemic area to encourage them to take preventative actions?” Experts in two continents were interviewed for 90 minutes and asked to describe their answer through MM techniques.  Interviews were summarized, four models created then compiled into one which was presented to experts for further discussion and validation. 

This research is innovative because it employs the MM methodology to a gene x environment condition and focuses on techniques to create simple, understandable depictions of complex gene x environment concepts to help elicit behavioral change.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe mental model techniques and how they can be applied to explain gene x environment contributors in low literacy settings.

Keyword(s): Genetics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Research Assistant on this project and work under the direct supervision of the PI's (Colleen McBride,Getnet Tadele, Gail Davey).
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.