Recent Research Publications and Funding

  •  | April 1, 2009 4:00AM

     Obesity is a major public health concern in the U.S. As compared to whites, minority populations are disproportionately at risk, with the highest prevalence rates of overweight and obesity occurring among African American women. Although researchers and policymakers argue that environmental approaches have the greatest potential to reverse the rising prevalence of obesity, critical gaps remain in our understanding of the complex mechanisms that underlie the associations between neighborhood food environments and weight status. A major challenge has been the need for reliable and valid measures to assess aspects of the neighborhood food environment that encourage or inhibit healthful eating behaviors and weight management. Investigators have made considerable gains in the development of tools and approaches to measure neighborhood food environments overall, but few studies focus on the specific challenges and issues associated with characterizing neighborhood food environments in communities of color. This paper highlights important considerations for measuring food environments in African-American neighborhoods and their implications for developing programmatic and policy solutions to reduce racial disparities in overweight.

  •  | April 1, 2009 12:00AM

    This article focuses on a synthesis of knowledge about healthy aging research in human beings and then synthesized nurse-led research in gerontology and geriatrics that use biomarkers. Healthy aging research has attracted considerable attention in the biomedical and basic sciences within the context of four major areas: (a) genetic variations as an expression of successful or unsuccessful aging; (b) caloric restriction as an intervention to slow the progression of aging; (c) immunological aging; (d) neurobiology of the aging brain. A systematic review of the literature was performed to identify nurse-led geriatric-related biomarker research. Nurse researchers who have chosen to integrate biomarkers as part of their research studies have been working in six focal areas, which are reviewed: health promotion within risk populations, cancer, vascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, caregiving, and complementary therapies. The article provides a discussion of contributions to date, identifying existing gaps and future research opportunities.  

  •  | March 31, 2009 4:00AM

    Successful outcomes for studies on health disparities depend on recruitment of research participants. Obtaining willing participants, protecting their rights, and acknowledging their contribution to research is as important as seeking answers to the study phenomena. Recruiting research participants can be an arduous process for investigators. Although literature has published participant recruitment methods, investigators sometimes underestimate the time and intensity required to attract eligible participants into research studies. This article reports on methods used to recruit 42 African American generational triads (grandmothers, mothers, and granddaughters) into a hypertension genetics study, the lessons learned, and suggestions for successful recruitment.  

  •  | March 12, 2009 4:00AM

    Individuals frequently perceive positive changes in themselves following adversity; after a collective trauma, they may perceive such benefits in others or in their society as well. We examined perceived benefits of the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks in a 3-year study of a national sample of adults (N = 1382). Many individuals (57.8%) perceived social benefits of 9/11, including increased prosocial behavior, religiousness, or political engagement. Individuals who found increased national religiosity as a benefit 2 months post-9/11 reported greater positive affect and life satisfaction and lower distress and posttraumatic stress up to 3 years post-9/11. Pre-9/11 religiousness and Republican political affiliation predicted perceiving religion-related social benefits post-9/11. Perceptions of social change are important but understudied responses to stressful events.

  •  | March 1, 2009 6:00AM

     In the United States, despite substantial investment in public health initiatives to promote early detection of breast cancer through screening mammography, the proportion of female breast cancers that have advanced beyond the localized stage by the time of diagnosis remains high. Our objective in this exploratory study was to investigate whether stage of breast cancer at diagnosis among Chicago residents is associated with characteristics of the neighborhoods in which proximate mammography facilities are located. Those characteristics may influence likelihood of utilizing the service routinely and partly explain differences in stage at diagnosis. We used a retrospective cohort design and combined 3 years of data from the Illinois State Cancer Registry (ISCR) with information on locations of mammography facilities, public transportation service, crime, and area demographic and economic characteristics. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS), we identified the five facilities located nearest to each case's residence. Estimates of the association between characteristics of mammography facility locations and breast cancer stage at diagnosis were obtained using the partial proportional odds regression model. We found that the number of homicides in areas in which the nearest mammography facilities were located was associated with increased odds of later stage diagnosis. This effect was independent of age, race, and residential area education and income. We found no effect on stage of distance, public transportation service, or measures of neighborhood social similarity. The "spatial dynamics" of health may involve geographies beyond the immediate neighborhood. The results of our study suggest that areas in which the nearest mammography facilities are located may be one such geography. We hope that this study will spark research interest in the impact of health service locations on utilization.

  •  | March 1, 2009 6:00AM

     PURPOSE: To examine relationships between the neighborhood food environment and fruit and vegetable intake in a multiethnic urban population.

    DESIGN: Analysis of cross-sectional survey and observational data.

    SETTING: One hundred forty-six neighborhoods within three large geographic communities of Detroit, Michigan.

    SUBJECTS: Probability sample of 919 African-American, Latino, and white adults.

    MEASURES: The dependent variable was mean daily fruit and vegetable servings, as measured by using a modified Block 98 food frequency questionnaire. Independent variables included the neighborhood food environment: store availability (i.e., large grocery, specialty, convenience, liquor, small grocery), supermarket proximity (i.e., street-network distance to nearest chain grocer), and perceived and observed neighborhood fresh fruit and vegetable supply (i.e., availability, variety, quality, affordability).

    ANALYSIS: Weighted, multilevel regression.

    RESULTS: Presence of a large grocery store in the neighborhood was associated with, on average, 0.69 more daily fruit and vegetable servings in the full sample. Relationships between the food environment and fruit and vegetable intake did not differ between whites and African-Americans. However, Latinos, compared with African-Americans, who had a large grocery store in the neighborhood consumed 2.20 more daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Presence of a convenience store in the neighborhood was associated with 1.84 fewer daily fruit and vegetable servings among Latinos than among African-Americans.

    CONCLUSION: The neighborhood food environment influences fruit and vegetable intake, and the size of this relationship may vary for different racial/ethnic subpopulations.

  •  | March 1, 2009 6:00AM

     Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States and affects African Americans disproportionately when compared to other ethnic groups. There are unclear reasons for this disparity, but several factors may include race, nutrition, family history of cancer, and screening. With early detection of prostate cancer, survival is much better; thus, screening may be helpful, especially for high-risk individuals. Prostate cancer screening continues to be controversial. A paucity of data exists on what prostate cancer screening means to African Americans, particularly in rural areas, and how they make the decision whether or not to undergo prostate cancer screening. This study interviewed 17 African American men to explore how and when they decided about prostate cancer screening. Most of the men (n = 9) said that they had prostate cancer screening. Three themes emerged from the data: (1) these men had information on prostate cancer; (2) family and friends played an important role in the men's decision-making process; and (3) for screening, it was necessary for the men to have a trusting relationship with their healthcare provider. These findings confirm that the decision-making process is not a simple process. The study's results can help healthcare providers understand some of the important decision-making factors in prostate cancer screening for African American men.

  •  | February 28, 2009 6:00AM

    Throughout the history of the HIV epidemic, HIV-positive patients with relatively high CD4 counts and no clinical features of opportunistic infections have been classified as "asymptomatic" by definition and treatment guidelines. This classification, however, does not take into consideration the array of symptoms that an HIV-positive person can experience long before progressing to AIDS. This short report describes two international multi-site studies conducted in 2003-2005 and 2005-2007. The results from the studies show that HIV-positive people may experience symptoms throughout the trajectory of their disease, regardless of CD4 count or classification. Providers should discuss symptoms and symptom management with their clients at all stages of the disease.  

  •  | February 15, 2009 6:00AM

     OBJECTIVE: To describe exercise prescription in routine clinical practice for individuals with chronic back or neck pain because, although current practice guidelines promote exercise for chronic back and neck pain, little is known about exercise prescription in routine care.

    METHODS: We conducted a computer-assisted telephone survey of a representative sample of individuals (n = 684) with chronic back or neck pain who saw a physician, chiropractor, and/or physical therapist (PT) in the past 12 months. Individuals were asked about whether they were prescribed exercise, the amount of supervision received, and the type, duration, and frequency of the prescribed exercise. Descriptive and multivariable regression analyses were conducted.

    RESULTS: Of the 684 subjects, 48% were prescribed exercise. Of those prescribed exercise, 46% received the prescription from a PT, 29% from a physician, 21% from a chiropractor, and 4% from other. In multivariable analyses, seeing a PT or a chiropractor were the strongest predictors of exercise prescription. The likelihood of exercise prescription was increased in women, those with higher education, and those receiving worker's compensation. PTs were more likely to provide supervision and prescribe strengthening exercises compared with physicians and chiropractors, and were more likely to prescribe stretching exercises compared with physicians.

    CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that exercise is being underutilized as a treatment for chronic back and neck pain and, to some extent, that the amount of supervision and types of exercises prescribed do not follow current practice guidelines. Exercise prescription provided by PTs appears to be most in line with current guidelines.

    Back pain, Exercise, Pain
  •  | February 14, 2009 6:00AM

    OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of thrombophilic genetic variants in an American Indian population and determine if they are associated with preeclampsia. METHODS: A total of 87 cases, 165 controls and an additional 75 population-based controls were genotyped for two thrombophilic polymorphisms. RESULTS: The allelic prevalence of the factor V Leiden and 20210 G/A prothrombin variants in this population was 2.1% and 0.5% respectively. No statistically significant associations between these genetic variants and preeclampsia were found. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of thrombophilic variants is of possible public health significance for other morbidity; but perhaps not in relation to preeclampsia.