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REDUCING HEALTH DISPARITIES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY | CREATED FOR STUDENTS BY STUDENTS

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Category: Health Issues Articles

by Victor Ajewole

October 07, 2014

Ignorance to Domestic Violence

Growing up I never actually seen a woman beaten in front of me or even wondered if domestic violence was even a growing issue. If anything, my life has never been directly affected by it and that plays a role on my views on this issue. In no way shape or form am I saying it’s not a problem, but I didn't know it was as big as a problem as it really is. The only instance that I heard of,  was in high school when a guy threw his girlfriend on a table. At the time I thought to myself, “who throws people on tables” not “Oh my gosh he is physically abusing his partner”. Looking back, I was foolish not to take the situation more seriously. We all knew something was wrong with that dude before the occurrence happened, but the person (female) didn’t give off signs of abuse.

                               

With the sudden headlines of athletes admitting and accusations of domestic violence, male and female, we, as honest folk ,really have to start asking ourselves “How often does this happen?” Maybe I’ve been oblivious to this because I am a male. Maybe its because I just didn’t get out much in my teenage years. One of my friends even called it taboo. It never came up in conversation, and I don’t think people would publicly bring it up. I’ve heard gossip, but none of it was ever confirmed.

To segway back to the athletes, specifically NFL athletes, I do not agree with the current domestic violence punishments issued to players. We live in a world where an athlete smoking weed or even dog fighting holds harsher punishments than domestic violence. Player punishment should not be the main source to shed light on this issue. What happens when the abuser isn’t famous, rich, or even well known? Honestly, I feel like some people just wouldn’t care as much.

                    

Domestic violence is also a health issue.  There is the mental health...physical health...sexual health.  Follow @myhealthimpact on Twitter and Tumblr as we discuss current social and cultural issues impacting health.

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by Ebony Baldwin

August 13, 2014

“Selfies” and Mental Health Disorders

Experts including Dr. Lucie Hemmen and Dr. David Veal are beginning to consider a compulsion to take selfies as a serious mental health problem. Individuals can spend hours, even days taking hundreds of selfies in an attempt to capture the “perfect” photo (McKay). Taking selfies can lead to technology addiction and Body Dysmorphic Disorder — a chronic mental health condition in which the sufferer obsesses over perceived flaws with their body. In addition to that, it has been proven by multiple studies that taking selfies can be detrimental to a person’smental health, and it can be linked to narcissism, depression, and low self-esteem.

So how can we fix this problem? First, we have to realize that there is a deep denial about how dangerous it is to interact with screens without setting limits on how much time is spent doing so. With that said, it is hard to convince people that the effects of taking selfies are serious. Nevertheless, the common treatment of taking selfies is gradually learning how to go for longer periods of time without satisfying the urge to take a photograph, along with therapy to address the root cause of the problem. Thus, learning how to use selfies in moderation. Selfies, if used properly, can be a feel-good and often creative way, to chronicle one’s life and emotions and express one’s personality.

 

In conclusion, know this—According to clinical psychologist Lucie Hemmen there is a continuum of health and authenticity in what you shoot and post (McKay). A secure, mature person is going to post selfies that are spontaneous and not overly engineered or edited, and they're going to do it less often. A more insecure person is going to post staged or sexualized photos, and they're going to do it so much that they become consumed by it and the comments they receive. Let’s not let selfies control our mental health.

 

 

McKay, Tom. "A Psychiatric Study Reveals Selfies Are Far More Dangerous than You Think." PolicyMic. N.p., 28 Mar. 2014. Web. 16 June 2014. <http://www.policymic.com/articles/86287/a-psychiatric-study-reveals-selfies-are-far-more-dangerous-than-you-think>.

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by Keiara Morris

July 30, 2014

Women’s Role in Men Health

Not to generalize all men but I know that the guys around my house used to absolutely despise going to the doctor because they felt like it was a waste of time. They believed that ALL could be healed with anything in the medicine cabinet and band-aids. This was my Dad before he suffered from a heart attack. These days I feel like our family dynamic is a little different. My Dad definitely doesn’t mind going to the doctor now and instead suggests healthy options at the dinner table.

My Mother and I are the only two females in my household and although my Dad has taken a different role in the health of our family, at the end of the day, the women keep things realistic and rational. There are many food options that my Dad brings to the table, but we (the women) figure out how to make these things work for our family or how to politely tell him “No, we’ll pass on that one”. From incorporating more fish, chicken and turkey into our diets and working out pork and beef to even starting our own family garden, our family has been made a complete lifestyle change. What’s an idea without someone to put it into action? Right, just an idea.

I believe that women play a huge role in men’s health. Typically because women are more aware of the signs of pending health issues thus sending up a red flag and ensuring that the men (in our families) see a doctor. So let's just face it, we are the backbone!

       

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by Ebony Baldwin

May 21, 2014

Where are the black doctors?

Recent studies have revealed that 5 percent of physicians and dentists in the United States are black. With a statistic like that, how does one find the courage and motivation to work towards a profession where they see no one like themselves? As I continue my journey in applying to medical school this summer, I find myself trying to beat this statistic and become the example. Hopefully a general surgeon that will one day be able to share her personal stories, and most importantly, my struggles, so that future black medical school candidates can see examples of successful black physicians who likely had similar backgrounds, experiences and struggles as they do. With that said, I think its important to start this process early. If you introduce the possibility and the representation of black physicians at a young age, I believe that more black students would embrace the idea of becoming a physician. In addition to that, black students would view Medical and Dental School as an option and not a dream. It’s time to change the statistic and move above it. We can no longer let the challenges and academic curriculum for preparing and applying to health professional schools hinder our ability as black students to perform and show that we too belong in these professions. Though sometimes things may get difficult, there will always be resources available to help guide and encourage us. The need for more black doctors should be taken more seriously. The shortage in black physicians can potentially make access to healthcare even more challenging for minorities. Thus, affecting minorities’ access to healthcare and proper treatment. So, the question no longer needs to be, “Where are the Black Doctors” but rather “Who are all these black doctors”. Though this is not something that can be changed over night, it can be changed in the future. As long as the seeds are planted, the tree will grow. Black physicians need to work together to help inspire future black doctors.

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by Julian Cobb

May 07, 2014

Why I Became Involved

Time really does fly by. When time picked up its wings my freshmen year, I didn’t realize how quickly it would land into my senior year. As I evaluate my time at NC State, I realize that I’ve had a great undergraduate career. This wouldn’t have happened unless I made the decision early to get involved.

Entering into any unfamiliar territory can be quite challenging. Everything is new and you don’t know what to expect. This is exactly how I felt coming into NC State my freshmen year. To counter my feelings, I decided to turn my fear into opportunity. An opportunity to take a chance at life. A few pitfalls are to be expected but getting back up is all that matters. Freshmen year was my chance to learn about this new environment where I would be spending the next four years of my life. I recall attending the African American Symposium in the summer and hearing student leaders share about their collegiate experience. The symposium really helped me learn about various African American organizations on campus. It was here that I was assigned a mentor with the Peer Mentor Program. You can say that I had a “big brother” who helped make my transition from high school to college rather “smooth”. He gave the spill about campus activities and groups, which made me feel “cool” at the time. We began to foster a positive relationship that helped me jumpstart my college career. Soon after school started, I found myself visiting the African American Cultural Center on a regular basis.  Here is where I found support and engagement.

Throughout my time at NC State, I’ve been involved in various campus organizations. During my sophomore year, I decided to become a Peer Mentor. I felt that it was only right to serve as a guide to an incoming freshman. I saw the impact that the Peer Mentor Program had on me and I wanted another freshman to have that same positive experience. My first year was pivotal in setting the foundation for my GPA. Because I excelled academically, I got accepted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Gamma Beta Phi Honors Society. I not only wanted to be members in these organizations but I wanted to be a leader. I became the newly appointed Social Chair for Gamma Beta Phi in the spring of my sophomore year. I wanted to get my feet wet so I didn’t run for a high position quite yet. Alongside these organizations, I got accepted to serve as a University Ambassador. This opportunity would allow me to give tours each week to prospective students and work in the Murphy Football Center off campus. Serving in this capacity allowed me to practice my public speaking on a consistent basis.

My leadership roles really picked up during my junior year. I got initiated into the Eta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated in the fall of my junior year. In the spring, I became the Vice President of the African American Cultural Center Student Ambassadors Program. To add another organization to the list, I became the Executive Vice President of the Poole Council. All of these leadership roles taught me how to work with people. From different attitudes and personalities, I had to remain focused on accomplishing the task at hand. I wanted to gain exposure working with people within my race and outside of my race.

Junior year also afforded me the opportunity to work on the @myHealthImpact team. Because people recognized me as a leader on campus, I believe they listened to what I had to say. With the project, I used that leadership and incorporated that into social media. By using social media, I have been able to spread awareness to various health disparities that plague my generation. All of a sudden, it hit me. There is power behind your voice. You never know who is being impacted by your actions or even by the words you speak. The quote is true, “somebody is always watching”.

As I journey into divinity school after graduation, I believe that all of my leadership experiences will pay off. These leadership roles have taught me how to communicate with others and how to lead by example. It is unrealistic to expect those who are following you to do what you won’t do yourself. Also, you can’t be a leader if you have no followers. A leader doesn’t have to speak on all their accomplishments. Instead, their work speaks for itself. I was determined to get involved so that I could be a role model for someone to follow. For that individual who made not have had a male influence growing up. For someone who wanted to be a leader but they thought it wasn’t the “cool thing to do”. I’ve hit some bumps in the road but I’ve kept moving forward. I’ve almost completed my race and now I’m passing the baton to those whose race has just begun.

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by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

January 23, 2014

10 Ways to Impact Your Health from @myHealthImpact

1) Find a medical doctor who cares and you feel comfortable with sharing your medical history.
2) See your doctor once a year.
3) Get the appropriate medical tests and screenings done (e.g., HIV, blood pressure, bone density).
4) Document your medical history.
5) Know your family medical history; talk to family members about your and their health.
6) Consider using technology to track your health goals (calorie intake, exercise times, types of exercises, weight loss, calories burned, etc.).
7) Get a good night’s sleep.
8) Estimate portion sizes for what you eat.
9) Check condoms for expiration date which is provided on the packaging. 
10) Keep a positive spirit.

Word Cloud by Dr. Payton – @myhealthimpact 2014 New Year’s Health Theme

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by Ebony Baldwin

October 21, 2013

Health Literacy?

Health Literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. It requires a complex group of reading, listening, analytical, and decision-making skills, and the ability to apply these skills to health situations. For example, it includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor's directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health care systems. When patients are faced with complex information and treatment decisions, there are specific tasks that should be carried out to ensure that one is getting the best treatment possible. Those tasks include:

• Evaluating information for credibility and quality
• Analyzing relative risks and benefits
• Calculating dosages
• Interpreting test results
• Locating health information.

In order to accomplish these tasks, individuals may need to be:

• Visually literate
• Computer literate
• Information literate
• Numerically or computationally literate
• Oral language skills are important as well.

In addition to that, it is important for patients to articulate their health concerns and describe their symptoms accurately. They need to ask pertinent questions, and they need to understand spoken medical advice or treatment directions. In an age of shared responsibility between physician and patient for health care, patients need strong decision-making skills.

Next time you visit your local physician, make sure you are practicing and carrying out these tasks. It is important for patients to receive the best care possible, as well as, know how to make accurate decisions when it comes to healthcare.

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by Julian Cobb

October 21, 2013

Breast Cancer: Study Results, Causes, and Health Literacy

When thinking about breast cancer, many people automatically shift their focus to women. In particular, women within the African American community. Studies have shown that breast cancer is more common in white women than African American women. In all actuality, men are also susceptible to breast cancer. Just like women, men do have breast tissue, which has the possibility of developing breast cancer.

I was pretty surprised when I learned of this news. From my research, the exact cause of breast cancer is not known. Even though there is no exact cause, the risk of getting breast cancer increases with age. Factors such as family history and alcohol usage also increase the possibility of getting breast cancer. For males, the most cases for breast cancer have been detected between ages 60- 70. Overall, a male’s risk of obtaining breast cancer is only 1%. Though this percentage is fairly low, this doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility for men.

In terms of health literacy, everyone needs to be knowledgeable about breast cancer. Having this knowledge base can help improve the quality of life by recognizing the signs early and seeking treatment if necessary. Knowing that breast cancer is 100 times more likely in women than men, this encourages me to consistently check on the women in my life. It is my duty to ensure that they are going to get mammograms and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Just knowing about breast cancer isn’t enough. Being proactive in your efforts can help save lives.


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by Francoise Knox-Kazimierczuk

July 14, 2013

Representations of Black Womanhood: Implications in Health

                                                 Miami University
                                              Doctoral Candidate

The prevalence of chronic disease for African Americans is substantially higher than their white counterparts. According the National Health Statistics African Americans had higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], 2010). In addition to having a greater risk for chronic disease African Americans experience more complications and endure greater rates of mortality. Although current data indicates that there have been improvements in mortality rates, life expectancy, and disease prevalence, disparities between the races are still substantial.

In the United States data on health disparities is rarely presented in an intersectional manner, edifying race, class, and gender (Kawachi, Daniels, and Robinson, 2005). It is through the use of controlling black female images that the interpellation occurs and health disparities are perpetuated. When individuals connect with images and do not engage them critically we allow dominant hegemonic representations to colonize our minds, shaping our assumptions about ourselves and others (Gauntlett, 2002). The connection between how black women were viewed and the implications it might have on health policy, health education, and individual interaction with the healthcare system has never been directly addressed in health disparity literature. Researchers tend to focus on issues of access emphasizing availability of adequate health insurance, culturally competent healthcare providers, and medical centers (Smedley, 2003). While, addressing issues of access is an important component in reducing health disparities controlling for these factors health disparities still remain.

                                          

Controlling for variables such as income, health insurance, and access provides minimal  impact on the health of African Americans when matched to white counterparts, so the question must be asked, “why do black women have so many health problems relating to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease?” What part does racist and classist ideological beliefs have on health outcomes? Focusing on the short-comings of health education in regards to enacting positive change in minority communities brings one to the study of black female images. It is through these images that black female identity is viewed and formed, shaping intra-personal and interpersonal development and interaction. The intrapersonal deals with the psychology of the individual delving into how identity and self concept is conceived, and this is important for understanding of how the individual may view self, which provides insight into potential motivations for self-care.

The construction and perpetual use of misrepresentations of black womanhood has left an indelible mark on the American healthcare system. As an African American female the relegation to subservient and deviant roles is assured; for the female staring as the jezebel or the mammy is the best that can be expected. Reiterations of these representations play out on the news, television shows, magazine covers, and movies. Visual, auditory, and social text displaying these controlling images almost seem inescapable. Text provides a specific discourse about race, class, gender, and sexuality, and while the viewer is able to pick and choose the text that he are she interacts with the process of mediating the messages that are received is not entirely possible. Living in a perpetuate world of performance due to the white gaze African Americans loss ‘self’ taking on the embodiment of the oppressor’s image of other. This internalization of mammy or jezebel requires the African American woman to perform her ascribed role. The role of the mammy as it relates to self-care does not allow space for the black woman to acknowledge her mental or physical health. The role of the mammy is to care for the needs of others and sacrifice herself for the good of others. The jezebel on the other hand has no real regard for her health or that of anyone else. Her function is to seek pleasure and satisfy her temporal desires.  Both images construct identities disconnected from self in the sense that one is unable to be attuned with what is needed to become and remain well. Likewise, many of the other representations of black womanhood suffer from this lack of attunement due to being conflations of old representations of slavery, reclaimed oppressive images, or images constructed in binary opposition to hegemonic representations of white superiority.

Resolving health disparities becomes far more than simply providing education and access, it hinges on identifying racism and acknowledging the cultural and political power that racist images and narratives have in our social ecological spheres (Shavers, 2006; Sanders-Phillips et. al.). Understanding the intentions and motivations behind health behaviors of the marginalized comes with deep exploration of those oppressing acts and representations that serve to colonize and recolonize (Speight, 2007).  A stripping away of oppressor hegemonic cultural narratives must be undertaken and empowered counternarratives constructed from more authentic afrocentric spaces must occur.

                                         

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by KaMar Galloway

May 06, 2013

The Evolution of a Sneakerhead

As the days dwindle away and graduation finds its way closer, a lot of thoughts have been running through my head. Thoughts primarily centered on my college experiences and how those moments have shaped me into the person I am today. Being a part of the myHealthImpact project has meant a lot to me, from gaining tangible skillsets to traveling across the country to promote our efforts. Although my obsession for simplicity and design drove my involvement with myHealthImpact, it was this representation of realizing a problem and attacking it head on with a unique solution that initiated my thoughts with respect to footwear.

As a child I was always fascinated with various types of sneakers. I wasn’t interested in wearing ‘regular’ or ‘basic’ shoes. I was more content with the latest and greatest Nikes, Jordan’s, and yes even Fila’s! I would beg my mom until she gave in and purchased my favorite pair of sneaks; but for some reason I was never completely satisfied. As the most expensive shoes felt uncomfortable and irritated me when I walked. This was evident because I had already been diagnosed with femoral antersion, or walking pigeon-toed, a common childhood orthopedic condition.

For a short time, I also wore shoes with braces, which I despised.  While in middle school, I faced additional foot problems that made it difficult for my feet to stay on the foot bed of most sneakers.  As a freshman at NCSU the foot problems ensued and further measures were taken such as creating a mold that I would wear in my shoes to provide comfort as I walked around campus. Currently, I have to engage in daily rituals by performing various foot exercises to ease the pains I may encounter during the day. Needless to say I have endured enough.

Despite my constant foot problems, for those who know me, I have been a lover of sneakers from the beginning of time. My devout following to rocking the latest kicks really took off when I entered college and met a small group of individuals who also shared this same passion. After accumulating dozens of shoes and even hosting the first ever sneaker showcase titled "Sneaks and Beat's' back in 2010, I still felt the need to do more. Now that I have officially hanged up my sneaks and done a lot of reflection, I have been toying with the idea of ending my retirement and refocusing my career on designing athletic footwear in conjunction with the medical field for optimal foot health.

Post graduation, I hope to take my experiences and turn it into a career filled with passion while helping others along the way. Thus, my involvement as an Undergraduate Researcher for this project has tremendously influenced me to pursue @myHealthImpact.
 

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In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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