Public & Community Health Research
Prepare for Your Career in Public Health Through Research
Dr. Oswald Attin and Dr. Linnaya Graf
Conduction and development of community and agency focus groups, design and evaluation of training curriculum, and designing and testing of marketing materials. The research and development of this research and workforce development protocol and program initiative is to improve workforce communication research to practice application in the field and to improve the understanding of methods and strategies to engage audiences in the mastery of necessary competencies related to public health science. Outcomes will include improved coalitions, scientific and practical application competency application, recognition and utility of complex scientific principles and terminology, improved sustainable pathways for improved population wellness, and innovation in areas of program design, policy development, intervention research, and the science of workforce training.
Dr. Oswald Attin
Dr. Gineska Castillo
Guatemala has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in all Latin America, but very little is understood about the health outcomes related to the nutritional practices of people in isolated communities within Guatemala. For the first phase of this research, two faculty members and two students from the Department of Public and Community Health conducted a health needs assessment focusing on the nutrition patterns, level of food insecurity, extreme blood glucose levels, and hemoglobin levels of adults within the communities of Zacapa, Guatemala. Rates of malnutrition and stunted growth of children within the same communities were also assessed through a second component of this research.
Liberty University’s mission of, “Developing Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential to impact the world,”2 and the mission of the Department of Public and Community Health, “Embracing the Christian worldview with a commitment to serve the underserved, the Liberty University Public and Community Health Program provides diverse educational, research, and practice opportunities to enable others to experience the embrace of God—‘A faithful envoy brings healing’ (Proverbs 13:17),”3 will be clearly executed throughout this research opportunity in Zacapa. As students and faculty collaborate on the development, implementation, and analysis of the research of both the nutritional habits and outcomes among the people in Zacapa and the additional informed interventions, they will apply knowledge gained from Liberty University to serve the underserved populations in Guatemala.
Previous research has not been conducted about nutrition habits specifically related to health outcomes in Zacapa, Morales and other parts of Guatemala; however, enough research has been conducted to provide this study with evidence-based scales that can be altered in questionnaires to study nutrition habits and food insecurity in Central American, underdeveloped nations.
Dr. Robyn Anderson
Dr. Robyn Anderson is currently studying the effects of BMI on heart rate in children ages 11 to 12 through a six-minute step test.
Dr. Thomas Shahady (PI) of The University of Lynchburg (UL) proposes to educate and train three student cohorts totaling 12 undergraduate and 6 graduate students through a three-year project involving research experiences on water quality in rural Costa Rica. The PI will prepare four undergraduate students and two graduate students, for each of the project’s three summer terms, to conduct ecological research under the mentorship of scientists at the Monteverde Institute (MVI) in Monteverde and Sustainability Demonstration Center (SDC), Costa Rica. Both entities are established, not-for-profit organizations dedicated to education, applied research, and engagement with Costa Rican communities. Students will reside and complete laboratory analyses at the SDC. The PI serves as the manager for the water quality laboratory and facilities at this well-equipped campus. The PI of this proposal will be present as the students transition into their international experience and will remain in Costa Rica for the summer to conduct his own independent work. This collaboration among MVI, UL, and SDC will result in mentorship for every aspect of the students’ work and will ensure continuous professional development during their time abroad. Each student will spend 10 weeks at the IRES site during their summer abroad and will complete their own investigation in support of the project’s overarching theme—”investigating interactions between surface waters and groundwaters to improve the safety of drinking water supplies.”
Needs Assessment for Pregnancy Resource Centers
Dr. Connie Huber and Dr. Darlene Martin
In light of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the increased restriction on abortions, Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRC) are uniquely qualified to meet the needs of women who are experiencing an unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Post Roe v. Wade many women will find themselves in need of an optimal health and hope-informed approach to education, support, medical care, and vital resources. A holistic care model addressing emotional, physical, relational, spiritual, and vocational resources and referrals are necessary to enable women to give birth to their baby, pursue their goals and achieve self-sufficiency. Life Affirming PRCs are equipped to facilitate healing by enabling others to experience the embrace of God. This is aligned with the mission of the Department of Public and Community Health.
The mission of the Department of Public and Community Health, “Embracing the Christian worldview with a commitment to serve the underserved, the Liberty University Public and Community Health Program provides diverse educational, research, and practice opportunities to enable others to experience the embrace of God—‘A faithful envoy brings healing’ (Proverbs 13:17),”
The initial phase of the research 2 faculty members, Dr. Connie Huber and Dr. Darlene Martin, and students from the School of Health Sciences will conduct a needs assessment to determine the barriers to care and strategies for retention of clients from their initial contact with a center and utilization of services. This needs assessment will inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of health education resources.
Nausea, Vomiting, and Complementary Alternative Medicine among Pregnant Women
Dr. Linnaya Graf and Dr. Debra Blackett
Dr. Debra Blackett, a Health Educator at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is working with Dr. Graf to better understand the role of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as a pathway for improving the health and wellbeing of pregnant women experiencing nausea and vomiting (NVP). NVP, during pregnancy, impacts between 70-85% of all pregnant women across degrees of severity and can have emotionally, mentally, and physically debilitating symptoms for pregnant women and impact their growing fetuses. Despite extensive studies on women experiencing NVP, there remains a gap in knowing how pregnant women who are experiencing NVP choose to select, use, and experience any one type of method to deal with the symptoms of NVP. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been defined as the use of nonstandard treatments in the place of conventional treatments and includes the use of herbal medicines, acupuncture, and massage therapy, among a number of other types of alternatives to prescription medication used to treat nausea and vomiting. Pregnant women may be drawn to CAM due to a hesitancy to use medication during pregnancy, which physicians agree has the possibility of harming the unborn fetus. However, despite efforts to create improved documentation of alternative treatment for NVP women using CAM have little documented effects of efficacy for the safety of most CAM methods.
The current study presents a multiple-phased, multi-year approach. The first phase includes a targeted focus on data collection from a nationally diverse population of women by applying a classification system that identifies potential patterns and trends across demographic differences and similarities. In the second phase of the study, a comprehensive epidemiological profile and geospatial mapping of the data will be completed to better determine any continued gaps in the data and determine divergent pathways for how women perceive or experience actual outcomes. For the third phase, resources will be generated to serve the population based on the developed profile. Suggestions for and creation of strategies, services, and approaches will be shaped into culturally appropriate tool kits which can be distributed to pregnancy centers, communities, clinics, doulas, and wellness centers for the purpose of applying improved health and wellbeing options using informed choices. Finally, in the final stage evaluation of the strategies and all materials will be made using the CDC standards: utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy.
Stress and Burnout in the Health Field
Dr. Linnaya Graf
Continuing research on the prevalence of health professionals and social service workers who experience stress and burnout resulting from their professions has been well documented in select health professions as contributing to work-related mental health impairment, and challenges with retention in the field. Recent literature has established this phenomenon as posing a significant challenge to the field; however, appropriate core interventions and tools remain unavailable or untested. Further, little is understood about the patterns and trends across healthcare professionals related to stress and burnout as a field. The proposed Participatory Action Project includes a multiple phased, multi-year approach designed to improve understanding of the phenomena of stress and burnout among the health care professions, as well as develop pathways for addressing this significant public health problem through the following stages:
(a) Synthesis of the current evidence on stress and burnout for health professionals, synthesis of the literature for acute versus chronic stress for health professionals, and identification of current best practices for tools and resources which have been identified as evidenced-based for addressing areas of stress and burnout.
(b) Mixed method data collection of an expansive sample of health care professionals representing a multitude of various fields across professions of healthcare and social service to explore perceptions and experiences of the frontline.
(c) Force Field Analysis of the ranked factors and development of an action plan for change of those factors identified as both most important, and most amenable.
(d) Suggestions for and creation of strategies, services, and approaches into a tool kit for academic and workplace curriculum for individuals and agencies serving health care professionals to improve resilience, decrease stress, and reduce burnout.
(d) Evaluation of tools to determine impact after implementation.