The health disparities agenda of the past 20 years has had an important influence on my work. My research agenda initially focused on prenatal care, access to quality gynecological and obstetric health care, childhood immunizations, and community health services. It now has expanded to examine the biopsychosocial impact of chronic disease diagnosis on African American women and workforce training.
Most recently, my collaborators and I have been examining the extent of change in women’s health status given the funded research investigations that would result in findings that would allow us to develop health promotion programs to bridge racial and ethnic disparities in the health status of women of color. Two recent projects whose findings will contribute to women’s health are an examination of major depression and cardiovascular disease and a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials for breast cancer screening. Both projects focus on African American women. My funded projects focus on workforce training for integrated behavioral health care.
My colleagues and I examined the co- occurring existence of major depressive disorder (MDD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a nationally representative sample of African American women. Our secondary data analysis of the National Survey of American Life found high rates of MDD and CVD in the sample, and African American women with MDD were 1.59 times more likely to have CVD compared to those without MDD. High rates of MDD/CVD comorbidity appeared for those African American women living in and not living in poverty. These women demonstrated greater functional impairment and were high users of mental health services.
In another project, Effectiveness of Interventions for Breast Cancer Screening in African American Women: A Meta- analysis, my colleagues and I conducted a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials in breast cancer screening for African American women. Our findings suggest targeted screening interventions are at least minimally effective for promoting mammography among African American women, but research in this area is limited to a small number of studies. Although no patient or study characteristics significantly moderated screening efficacy, the most effective interventions were those specifically tailored to meet the perceived risk of African American women. More research is needed to enhance the efficacy of existing interventions and reduce the high morbidity and mortality rates in this underserved population.
The School of Social Work continues to strengthen its health curriculum with funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to integrate adolescent substance abuse screening, brief intervention, and treatment throughout our MSW program, and our Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Social Work program continues to prepare MSW students to meet the needs of youths in integrated health care settings.