Research Spotlight: Community Engagement

May 2010Diana Austin

This Research Spotlight focuses on community engagement research, a core component of the campuswide UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Below, we highlight the work of just a few of the researchers from the UCSF School of Nursing who work collaboratively with individuals and communities that share a common interest in issues affecting their well-being.

Catherine “Kit” Chesla, RN, DNSc, is principal investigator of a four-year, community-based participatory research project to develop a behavioral intervention for Chinese immigrants with type 2 diabetes and their families. In partnership with two community agencies in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Donaldina Cameron House and North East Medical Services, her team is taking nurse-developed behavioral skills training that has proven effective in patients with type 1 diabetes, and is adapting it to be culturally appropriate for Chinese immigrants with type 2 diabetes. The training is made up of six group sessions with didactic presentations and skills practice that might help a person manage complex social situations in diabetes management, such as communication, problem solving and conflict resolution. The team will evaluate the effect of the training protocol on patient health, family relations and behavioral outcomes.

Shari Dworkin, PhD, is working on two grants. The first seeks to better understand the mechanisms through which economic empowerment may work to reduce HIV/AIDS risks. Lack of economic empowerment can lead women and girls to participate in a variety of sexually risky situations: They are less able to negotiate safer sex with partners, they are less likely to be able to leave a violent relationship (also associated with HIV risk), and they are more likely to engage in the exchange of sex for food, clothing, school fees or household needs. A second grant seeks to develop a better understanding of the ways in which gender-transformative antiviolence and HIV/AIDS prevention interventions affect men in the southern Africa region.

Catherine Waters, RN, PhD, leads a research team that includes public and private community partners, and conducts community-based programs to prevent cancer and type 2 diabetes, while promoting cardiovascular health among ethnic minority populations and communities. She has three randomized, controlled trials in progress: one on cardiovascular health among young, low-income African American women; one on glycemic control in African Americans with type 2 diabetes; and one to increase physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption among African Americans.

Mary White, RN, MPH, PhD, focuses on improving the health care and health care outcomes of incarcerated populations and those at high risk for incarceration, such as the homeless, injection drug users, the severely mentally ill, and new and undocumented immigrants. Her work involves collaborations with medical and nursing personnel and officials in San Francisco and Santa Clara county jails and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. She directs the Studies on the Health of Incarcerated Populations (SHIP) program, and is principal investigator or co-principal investigator of three current National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies involving these topics.

Oisaeng Hong, RN, PhD, focuses on health and safety in working populations (including vulnerable populations such as underserved immigrant workers), noise exposure and health outcomes, and worksite and community-based behavioral interventions. She is principal investigator of an Internet-based intervention to prevent hearing loss among firefighters, as well as one examining risk factors for hearing loss in older Mexican Americans. Other projects include examining the prevalence of smoking, alcohol use and depression and performing a Web-based smoking cessation intervention in construction workers in Michigan, and studying community noise and health effects in San Francisco.

Howard Pinderhughes, PhD, has a forthcoming book based on two community-based studies that examine how urban adolescents think about, experience and make decisions about the use of violence. He is the founder of the People Respecting Other Peoples (PROPS) program, which trains students at San Francisco’s Mission High School to conduct basic research and use the results to improve relations among the many different racial and ethnic groups at the high school. He also is the director of education and outreach and co-principal investigator of the Center on Culture, Immigration and Youth Violence Prevention, one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) academic centers of excellence to address youth violence. In addition, Pinderhughes works with the Prevention Institute on the CDC-funded Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY) project, which helps the 45 largest cities in the United States develop and implement comprehensive violence prevention programs.

Glenna Dowling, RN, PhD, focuses on functional rehabilitation in people with chronic progressive neurological diseases and circadian and rest activity rhythm disruption. In partnership with Red Hill Studios, she recently received two NIH grants to adapt the popular Nintendo Wii platform to create therapeutic interactive games to improve functional gait and balance in people with Parkinson’s disease and children with cerebral palsy.

Barbara Drew, RN, PhD, develops and tests novel electrocardiographic monitoring strategies and improves clinical practices for more accurate diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmias and myocardial ischemia. One current study she is conducting in Santa Cruz County involves a randomized clinical trial to determine whether prehospital ST-segment monitoring with trans-telephonic transmission to target hospitals will reduce hospital time to treatment for acute coronary syndromes.