Research

Research

The Hawai‘i Chapter of Delta Omega invites all interested Public Health graduate and undergraduate Students to submit an abstract for the National Delta Omega Poster Contest Display at the APHA 2018 annual meeting to be held 10-14 November, 2018, in San Diego, CA. Each chapter is able to select no more than 2 abstracts for the graduate student competition and 1 for the undergraduate competition.

Students whose work is selected for a national award will receive a $350 cash prize from the national Delta Omega Honor Society, which the OPHS will match for a total of $700. Student awards will be made during the Delta Omega Social Hour. In addition, students will have the opportunity to present their poster during the APHA scientific poster sessions. Student abstracts will also be published on the Delta Omega National Webpage.

All abstracts must be submitted via email for consideration to katz@hawaii.edu by 17:00 (5:00 pm) Friday, March 30, 2018. No late or incomplete submissions will be accepted or considered.

See the Delta Omega Student Abstract Announcement and Delta Omega Abstract Submission Guideline documents for more details

Students from our department have been national Delta Omega student poster contest award winners for 9 of the past 10 years. We look forward to your submissions.

Please contact Dr. Katz if you have any questions.

Post-9/11 military veterans who receive mind-body therapy have significant improvements in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study co-authored by Office of Public Health Studies Professor Kathryn Braun in the Journal for Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

“Our findings show that mind-body interventions are effective in reducing the severity of PTSD symptoms associated with combat,” said Braun, director and professor at the Office of Public Health Studies within the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. “They also can reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, and increase mindfulness and sleep quality in veterans with PTSD.”

Combat-related PTSD is a major public health challenge for the Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs. When service members return from deployment with combat-related PTSD, conventional therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medications.

But complementary and alternative treatments, such as mind-body therapies including meditation and yoga, are less invasive. Thus they may be more attractive to service members and veterans.

Not only are mind-body therapies effective, but they may also be less costly than conventional treatments. For example, yoga can be taught and delivered to a dozen service members or veterans at a time.

Study author Robin Cushing is an Army physician assistant who teaches yoga in military and veteran communities. “We reviewed 15 pieces of literature on the effects of mind-body interventions for veterans with PTSD,” said Cushing. “Our findings show that, for the majority of participants, their PTSD symptoms improved.”

The worldwide spread of a serious infectious disease could result in pandemic-related deaths of 700,000 and annual economic losses of $500 billion, according to a study in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Victoria Fan, an assistant professor of Health Policy and Management in the Office of Public Health Studies at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is lead author of “Pandemic risk: how large are the expected losses,” (PDF) which applied a theoretical model to calculate the expected number of deaths and economic losses in rare pandemic scenarios.

The study was based on Fan’s work using impact and economic evaluations. The dollar figure of economic losses is much higher than those found in previous studies, which, according to the study, means “there is an unmet need for greater investment in preparedness against major epidemics and pandemics.”

The projection of total pandemic-related costs of $500 billion in U.S. dollars, or 0.6 percent of global income, falls within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s estimates of the costs of global warming. This implies that the losses from pandemic risk would be similar in magnitude to those of climate change.

The model may also be applied to other outbreaks, such as malaria, or catastrophic events, including nuclear attack. “Policymakers may be able to estimate the economic losses that come with rare but potentially devastating events,” said Fan. “We hope this can lead to more appropriate adjustments for national policies and investments, and international collaborations on pandemic preparedness.”

Fan was a visiting assistant professor of global health at Harvard University in fall 2017. The paper’s co-authors are Lawrence Summers, a former U.S. deputy secretary of the treasury and former president of Harvard University, and Dean T. Jamison, emeritus professor of global health at the University of Washington at Seattle.

Related links:
UH researcher's study says the world isn't prepared for global flu outbreak
Researchers calculate expected number of deaths, economic losses in rare pandemic scenarios

Older adults commonly have a fear of falling, even if they have never fallen before. Studies suggest that fear of falling may capture underlying health concerns not easily measurable by clinical examination and/or lead to self-imposed physical activity restrictions contributing to health decline. This paper observes that fear of falling predicts subsequent loss of physical function in a sample of older adults from Canada, Colombia, and Brazil, even after substantial statistical adjustment of potential confounders. This research suggests that high fear of falling in older adults may have clinical relevance and be predictive of important health declines. 

A new study by researchers at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and colleagues in Brazil and Canada finds that older women from multiple countries who reported adolescent childbirth had greater cardiovascular disease risk.

What is new? To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate in postmenopausal women from multiple global settings that adolescent childbirth is related to greater overall cardiovascular risk, as measured by the Framingham Risk Score, compared to women who gave birth at later ages, as well as compared to nulliparous women.

What are the clinical implications? Adolescent childbirth may serve as a cardiovascular disease risk marker; women who were adolescent mothers may benefit from earlier and increased cardiovascular screening to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events.
 

The study examines the relationship between economic adversity transitions from childhood to older adulthood and older adulthood physical performance among 1,998 community-dwelling older adults from five demographically diverse sites from middle and high-income countries.

OPHS Researcher, Rebecca Schweitzer, DrPH, was interviewed on KHON-2 News yesterday speaking about the tobacco stings that her research team conducts.

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tobacco

Homelessness and inadequate housing are major causes of unnecessary hospitalizations, according to a study by University of Hawaiʻi researchers.

The study, “I Need my Own Place to get Better”: Patient Perspectives on the Role of Housing in Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations", is from an ongoing project to understand and reduce potentially preventable hospitalizations for diabetes and heart disease in Hawaiʻi.

Principal investigator and Office of Public Health Studies Associate Professor Tetine Sentell, says, “We were interested in patient perspectives on the role of housing as contributing to their potentially preventable hospitalization.”

Said Michelle Quensell, MPH '15, lead author of the study and a UH public health graduate, “We talked to 90 patients, and almost 25 percent reported a housing-related issue as a major factor in hospitalization. About half of these patients were homeless, noting the high cost of housing in Hawaiʻi.”

“Patients said it was hard to care for their diabetes or heart disease when they were living without amenities such as refrigeration, running water, a stove or a safe place to store medications,” added Sentell. “Patients also mentioned challenges of following diet plans when canned goods were the only available foods at the shelters and food banks.”

Several major health providers in Hawaiʻi have recently created innovative new programs to address social determinants, including housing, within the health care setting to improve health care quality and reduce health care costs. This research strongly supports these efforts.

Other investigators include Kathryn Braun, UH Public Health, Deborah Taira, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at UH Hilo, and Todd Seto, Queen’s Medical Center.

Congratulations to the 2017 UH Mānoa Awardees from our very own Public Health program ‘ohana - doctoral student, Mapuana, and assistant professor, Denise Nelson-Hurwitz!

Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz received the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. She was selected because of her incredible work developing and teaching the BA in public health.

Mapuana Antonio won the Student Excellence in Research Award for her studies of Native Hawaiian physical and mental health resilience. Mapuana graduated in May 2017 with her DrPH and is now teaching at Leeward Community College.

 

Assistant Professor Catherine Pirkle (Health Policy and Management) has been selected as a Fulbright Specialist by the J. William Fulbright Council for International Exchange of Scholars. She will collaborate with faculty at the College of Health Sciences of Trairí (FACISA), which is a rural satellite campus of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Northeast, Brazil.

Dr. Pirkle will be working on FACISA’s health system and research capacity to address issues such as reproductive and sexual health including early pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and violence against women. She will lead teacher training and participate in short-term lecturing and seminars.

Dr. Pirkle has a long history of working in underserved global settings including West Africa and Arctic regions. She has strong, long-term international connections to research teams around the globe with which to link faculty and staff at FACISA. She will help prepare students to address critical public health needs and to attract more local and international students.

As a Fulbright Specialist, Dr. Pirkle will also be considered for additional future overseas assignments that require her unique expertise during the next three years.

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Fulbright

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