freshman community plunge

Project 1: “Variation in Health Outcomes within Disadvantaged Neighborhoods: Person Environment Fit,” Erin Ruel, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Public housing residents have the worst health of any American subpopulation (Ruel et al, 2010). These health disparities are cumulative and are due not to poor health behaviors, but to the extreme circumstances in which they live. This study examines the upstream social factors that lead to poor health among public housing residents being relocated out of public housing. Given the extreme racial and economic residential segregation that public housing residents face, this study focused on how neighborhood characteristic and neighborhood change affects the health and well-being of this population.

We surveyed public housing residents three times, once prior to relocation and twice after.  We conducted a neighborhood audit of the relocating neighborhood and interviewed up to 5 neighbors in each neighborhood.  We collected and geocoded basic service needs such as grocery stores, clinics, fast food and alcohol and tobacco outlets and transportation options in each neighborhood.

Preliminary findings demonstrate that public housing residents stayed within the city of Atlanta. The new neighborhoods improved in terms of economic segregation but not racial residential segregation. In general, health improved after relocating out of public housing initially, but over time, the health benefit decreased suggesting the improvement was due to the lifting of stigma of living in public housing.

This study has had a major impact on housing policy with both federal and state congressional testimony solicited.

Project 2: “The Impact Project: The role of African American churches in prevention of HIV and substance abuse,”Richard Rothenberg M.D., Principal Investigator, Mary Anne Adams, MSW, Project Director

This is a multi-part project that has performed qualitative interviews and focus groups with faith-based persons and neighborhood residents, and quantitative network assessments of those who use church and neighborhood programs.  We will use the results in future work to develop interventions in conjunction with churches and communities.

Participants will be recruited from a stressed inner-city Atlanta neighborhood to ascertain the influence of religious organization activity in the prevention of HIV and substance use. They will assess the impact of such exposure in the context of potential confounding by personal religiosity, network associations, and other demographic and behavioral variables, and will quantify the impact of religious organizations on these outcomes

Project 3: “DAD2K: A computer-assisted adaptation of the SafeCare model targeting child maltreatment prevention with disadvantaged fathers” Shannon Self-Brown, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

The public health issue that is the focus of this project is child maltreatment, which disproportionately affects the poor, disabled children, single-parent households, and certain minority groups. Victims of child maltreatment are at risk for a range of deleterious short-term and long-term health and mental health outcomes, making maltreatment a significant contributor to disparities throughout the lifespan.

The goal of this study is to examine a child maltreatment prevention program designed for disadvantaged fathers. Fathers are involved as perpetrators in approximately 36% of child maltreatment substantiated cases. However, to date, there has been limited research focusing on child maltreatment prevention with fathers. In the first year of the project, a technology-assisted, father-specific version of the SafeCare® Parent-Child Interaction module, entitled Dad2K, was developed. Following development of the program, a randomized control trial began to explore the effects of Dad2K as compared to a control group on parenting behaviors (including parent-child interaction, co-parenting, and father involvement), father’s mental health, risk of child maltreatment, and child behavior.

Based on preliminary results with the pilot fathers, and the intervention group participants to date, participation in Dad2K has resulted in skill development in positive parenting, and has reduced self-reported child maltreatment risk as compared to the control group fathers. The impact of this research is important for the future of parenting programs and could ultimately aid in ameliorating child maltreatment-related health disparities.