Online Program

Promoting health advocacy and policy change among students of color: The Health Disparities Summer Internship Program

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nicole McLean, School of Public Health, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
Michael A. Joseph, PhD, MPH, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
Background: Communicating the benefits of effective health policy is emphasized through an exciting summer internship program for high school students of color. The Health Disparities Summer Internship Program (HDSIP) of the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center introduces students to a curriculum consisting of: awareness of health disparities, basic research skills, and community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods.  We describe the results of a survey that assessed the program’s impact on its participants.

Methodology:  A total of 57 students (70% Black) participated in the 4-week HDSIP within the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. Students attended lectures covering topics such as health disparities, health in America, immigrant health, and policy and advocacy. While working with community-based organizations, students gained hands-on experience related to issues discussed in class. Students completed and presented research projects and provided suggestions for health policy change.  Pre/post surveys were completed to assess the impact of the program.

Results: At baseline, 75% of students reported being interested in incorporating advocacy into their future careers; by the end of the program the percentage rose to 94% (p<0.05). After familiarizing students with CBPR and health advocacy, 81% of students planned to advocate for changes in their community; an increase from the initial 63% (p<0.05).

Conclusion: Introducing minority students to health professions can serve as a catalyst for lasting changes in health outcomes. The HDSIP has increased students’ awareness of social determinants of health and has fostered their interest in improving the health of minority populations.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe a 4-week summer internship program in which high school students of color are exposed to health disparities research and health policy. Evaluate the effectiveness of the summer internship program in promoting interest in health advocacy.

Keyword(s): Public Health Research, Urban Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a graduate trainee with the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, I was responsible for facilitating the curriculum to Health Disparities Summer Internship Program students and overseeing the completion their research projects.
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.