Statewide Study of American Indian Health

Aug 20, 2013
The National Institutes of Health National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities awarded a $6 million, five year grant to a statewide team of researchers from Northern Arizona University, the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and Diné College to establish the Center for American Indian Resilience, also known as CAIR. 
Nicolette Teufel-Shone, PhD professor of health promotion sciences, at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health and Priscilla Sanderson, PhD, assistant professor of health sciences and applied indigenous studies at Northern Arizona University, are co-directors of CAIR.  
The collaborative team will study why some Native American communities facing high rates of chronic disease and poverty seem to thrive despite adversity.“We will  take a look at existing health behaviors and programs that target the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, to determine what is working and why. The basic practice of public health is about understanding ways to support healthy behaviors,” said Teufel-Shone. “And we know programs that are culturally relevant are more effective.” 
Sanderson said, “CAIR research will deepen our scientific knowledge of existing positive health outcomes in tribal communities, and then we will translate this knowledge to practice through public health education and policy,” a member of the Navajo Nation. 
The UA College of Public Health received $2 million of the CAIR grant that includes collaborations with tribal communities and research projects.  The research project being directed by the UA involves a partnership with the Tucson Indian Center to interview Elders about their concept of resilience and their perceptions of key factors that contribute to success in life.  Through this initiative, members of the southwestern Native American community will record video diaries to share their experiences of well-being.   
“The goal of the video diaries project is to use existing information about which factors contribute to Native American resilience and spread this knowledge to other Native American communities. This way, researchers can learn lessons of how resilience is already effective in these communities, share experiences, and allow community members to create new paths based on other people’s stories,” said Teufel-Shone. 
In addition, the UA College of Public Health will collaborate with NAU and Diné College to support Diné College’s on-going summer program to teach undergraduate students to consider and incorporate community strengths in their work as emerging public health professionals. The program combines classroom learningwith hands-on experience through an internship in tribal communities.  
Additional UA College of Public Health participants include John Ehiri, director and professor, Division of Health Promotion Sciences; Agnes Attakai, director, Health Disparities Outreach and Prevention Education; Kerstin Reinschmidt, assistant professor, Health Promotion Sciences; and Rebecca Drummond, program director for Family Wellness. 
NAU faculty and staff contributing to CAIR include Olivia Trujillo, professor of applied indigenous studies; Robert Trotter, Regents’ professor and chair of anthropology; Chad Hamill, assistant professor of music; Roger Bounds, associate professor and chair of health sciences; Lisa Hardy, assistant professor of anthropology; R. Cruz Begay, professor of health sciences; and Kelly Laurila, coordinator in anthropology. Paul Dutton, director of NAU’s Interdisciplinary Health Policy Institute, will facilitate the executive advisory board. 
Diné College faculty on the project are Mark Bauer, PhD and Donald Robinson, PhD of the Department of Science Education.


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