Working Research Statement
Specific Research Themes
(1) Culturally sensitive patient-centered health promotion and health care, and
(2) Integration of health promotion in medicine.
(1) Theory of Social Suffering
(2) Community Health Empowerment Theory
Primary Research Participants
Low-SES racial/ethnic minority individuals and families (in particular, but not limited to, Latinos); health care providers.
I am committed to interdisciplinary translational research in the areas of customized, culturally sensitive health promotion and health care, with the goal of eliminating health disparities. I partner with communities and other scholars to conduct two long-term, community-participatory research programs —Patient-Centered Culturally Sensitive Health Promotion and Patient-Centered Culturally Sensitive Health Care—that promote health and prevent disease in at-risk communities. These research programs understand health holistically, and address different social determinants of health (e.g., economic opportunity). These programs also involve defining, assessing, and testing culturally sensitive interventions to increase health promoting behaviors (e.g., healthy eating and physical activity) and reduce health risk behaviors (e.g., poor sleep). The focus of this research is on understanding the relationship among these interventions (and its associated lifestyle changes) and health outcomes (e.g., rates of obesity, hypertension).
Patient-Centered Culturally Sensitive Health Promotion (PC-CSHC): I have collaboratively developed and tested different versions of the Health-Smart Behavior Program, which taught community members to make healthy behavior choices. I also trained others, e.g., community health workers and clinical staff, to implement the program. Recently I partnered with the YMCA to conduct an intervention to promote sleep among Latino community members.
Patient-Centered Culturally Sensitive Health Care (PC-CSHC). My work in this area has included: (a) co-coordinating the Health Disparities Research and Intervention Program, (b) publishing inventories to evaluate the cultural sensitivity of clinical staff and clinic environment, (c) publishing a theoretical framework for understanding PC-CSHC and its value to achieve desired health care goals; (d) publishing manuscripts that investigate the relationship between PC-CSCH and health outcomes; (e) international invited presentations on the large weight of PC-CSHC in reducing health disparities; and (f) co-organizing the People’s Scientific Conferences (2013 and 2017). Since 2016, I partnered with Denver Health to conduct two research studies: (1) “Preferred Provider Cultural Sensitivity Indicators and their Association with Perceived Quality of Care”; and (2) “Implicit Bias and Opioid Prescriptions at Emergency Department Visits.” Both studies have received DU internal funding and are underway. Moreover, I have a PI subcontract through the DU Latino Center for a Colorado Health Foundation grant, to increase access and awareness of mental health services to immigrants in 3 rural areas of Colorado (a collaboration with the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado).
In addition, I have developed two community participatory research projects (currently in progress) in collaboration with (1) Casa de Paz, a "half-way house" for detained immigrants who were paroled or released after receiving legal documentation from the detention facility in Aurora; and (2) Valdez Elementary School, a Denver Public School. The first project (at Casa de Paz) seeks to produce a cookbook with recipes shared by the Casa de Paz guests; it also includes some of these guests’ personal stories of immigration and detention. The primary aims are to humanize immigrants and reduce stigma around immigration. The second project (at Valdez Elementary School), funded by DU Latino Center and CCESL, aims to create enjoyable STEM learning opportunities for Latino students through participation in an after-school program and empower them to see themselves as future STEM professionals.
Student presenter: Aleis Pugia, M.Ed., M.A.
Student co-presenter: Anna Edelman, M.S.