Gheens Foundation Supports Community Initiatives

Research on the utilization of free cancer screenings among west Louisville residents

Stephanie D. Boone, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health and Brown Cancer Center

The goals of this project are to better understand community priorities and health priorities post-COVID, by conducting discussion groups and creating and disseminating educational materials explaining population differences in cancer outcomes and create awareness of free resources offered by Kentucky African Americans Against Cancer (KAAAC). The resources, including services and programs, are intended to address poor social determinants of health (i.e. lack of healthcare access, financial concerns). The aim is to gain a better understanding of ways in which to encourage more participation amongst West Louisville residents to utilize free cancer screenings that further help reduce the cancer disparities that disproportionately plague African American neighborhoods. The team will use the results to design an educational/KAAAC awareness campaign in targeted communities and within local networks.

Background: Kentucky African Americans Against Cancer (KAAAC) is a health equity initiative of Kentucky Cancer Program-West (Brown Cancer Center). Trends in epidemiology surveillance data from the Kentucky Cancer Registry reveals African Americans in Kentucky are more likely to die from their cancer compared to other racial groups. KAAAC uses evidence-based practices to reduce cancer disparities in the African American population through education, prevention and early detection, cancer screenings, patient support, survivorship, and community outreach. The KAAAC target populations includes residents of neighborhoods located in West Louisville (the highest population of African Americans in KY). A need has been identified for increasing uptake of free KAAAC services including screening, support services, and education.

Research on solar installation in west Louisville neighborhoods

David A. Johnson, PhD, MPH, CPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences

The objective of this research is to determine how housing justice can be supported through expanded access to residential green technology for low-to-moderate-income (LMI) homeowners in Louisville. The team will work locally with Solar Over Louisville (SOL), which is Louisville Metro Government’s (LMG) effort to increase the amount of rooftop solar in our community (Louisville Metro Government, 2022). This research will examine the impact of solar installation across multiple Louisville neighborhoods in order to support the expansion of public financing to solar installations for LMI residents.  The goal of this research is to learn about the impacts of including LMI households in LMG’s residential solar program for those households, as well as for the households in close proximity. The results of this research are expected to inform LMG’s future residential solar program expansion into LMI neighborhoods and examine the role of solar as an anti-displacement strategy.

Background: Louisville faces significant challenges from both persistently unequal access to affordable housing and from the uneven distribution of urban environmental pressures and resource costs. Housing and environmental justice are critical pieces of urban health equity, as they frame the possibilities of households achieving an emplaced, livable, and just life within the city, and scholars are increasingly exploring the intersections of these two domains through research into residential energy insecurity (cf. Bednar, Reames, and Keoleian 2017). While many groups seek to support economically marginalized residents, there is not a community-based group focusing specifically on this work for this demographic. In partnering with Louisville Metro Government on this research, the team will ensure study findings are shared with staff and policymakers who can use them to access additional public funding for residential solar projects, and who seek to increase the impact of renewable energy sources for LMI households across the city.

Healthy Start/502 Fathers

Kendria Kelly-Taylor, MSPH, Doctoral Candidate and Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health

The objective of the study is to explore the perceptions of paternal engagement as it relates to maternal and child health outcomes within underserved communities in the greater Louisville area. The team hopes to further understand the role of fathers by investigating: 1) fatherhood involvement in gestation and early childhood, 2) barriers to paternal involvement, and 3) how fatherhood engagement improves maternal and child health outcomes.

Background: Evidence suggests that fathers play a critical role in the development and health of children beginning in the prenatal period through early childhood and adolescence. Specifically, the role of fathers has been documented to positively impact maternal health behaviors. For example, Martin and colleagues (2007) demonstrated that mothers who had involved partners were 50% more likely to receive prenatal care during their first trimester, and of those who smoked, cigarette use was reduced by 36% in comparison to mothers whose partners were not involved during pregnancy. Extending beyond maternal health behaviors, father engagement has also been associated with reduced risk of adverse birth outcomes, maternal stress, and improved well-being of mothers. Despite the evidence of the importance of fatherhood engagement during pregnancy, a dearth in knowledge about the role of fathers during pregnancy and beyond persists, hindering the development of subsequent interventions and policies.

Public Health Dual Credit course at Central High School

Tammi Alvey Thomas, PhD, MSSW, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Public Health Practice and Undergraduate Education, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

SPHIS began offering dual credit coursework to Central High School students for the 2022-23 academic year. Central High School is a magnet and career academy located in the Russel neighborhood less than two miles from the SPHIS Building on HSC. Funding from the Gheens Foundation will be used to purchase textbooks for students, eliminating this cost as a potential participation barrier. SPHIS had 27 students from Central enrolled in the Introduction to Public Health course for Fall 2022. Students have the opportunity to take three public health dual credit courses earning nine hours of college credit. The courses will introduce basic public health concepts, epidemiological concepts, and social determinants of health.

Background: Creating strategic partnerships with local high schools with highly diverse student populations is one tactic SPHIS is using to increase enrollment and meet workforce needs. Having a more diverse and representative workforce can better serve diverse communities because of cultural, environmental, and other considerations. A diverse workforce is better positioned to address health disparities. However, most employees at federal, state, and local health departments are non-Hispanic White.

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