CHS Invests in Community-Academic Partnerships for Health Equity
Published November 4, 2022
By Darlene Muguiro
UTEP College of Health Sciences
In late October, the College of Health Sciences selected a group of UTEP faculty and their community partners to participate in a grant-funded capacity-building program. The awards are an average of $7,000 each and will be used this academic year by the interdisciplinary teams to implement five distinct projects, each aimed at addressing a pressing healthcare issue in the community. CHS professors will work with their identified community partners to implement the below projects:
“Pain Sensitivity and Central Pain Mechanisms among Older Adult Hispanic Americans and non-Hispanic Whites: The role of Daily Activity and Sociocultural factors”
Faculty: Dr. Carolina Valencia, Rehabilitation Sciences; Dr. Kosaku Aoyagi and Dr. Fredy Mora Solis, Physical Therapy
Community Partners: El Paso Parks and Recreation Sports Department; Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Project Objective: The overall objective of the study is to identify the potential effect of sociocultural factors such as ethnic identity, optimism, resilience, and fear in pain sensitivity, level of independence, physical activity, and quality of life among older adult Hispanic Americans and non-Hispanic whites. Understanding the potential effect of psychosocial factors on pain perception, independence, physical activity, and quality of life among older adults will better assist the clinician in a patient-centered approach to pain management and potentially decrease health disparities between populations.
“A High-Impact Educational Experience: Designing Culturally Appropriate Water Purification Systems in Colonias”
Faculty: Dr. Eva Moya and Dr. Silvia Chavez-Baray, Social Work; Dr. Jorge Loya, Nanosystems Engineering, Rice University
Community Partner: Familias Triunfadoras
Project Objective: The objectives of this project are to generate a culturally appropriate drinking water design for water treatment in colonias in San Elizario; demonstrate the importance and impact of collaborative transdisciplinary work between engineers and social work students and faculty to solve real community issues; and lay the basis for a course in sustainability and environmental justice for social workers and engineers. Throughout the project, social work and engineering students will be exposed to a holistic problem-solving approach and will work together to define water quality issues to solve, and to propose, prototype, and test a technological and a holistic solution for a rural community in a colonia.
“An interdisciplinary health education program to address transgender health inequity in an underserved, predominantly Latinx community”
Faculty: Dr. Brandon Merritt and Dr. Patricia Lara, Speech-Language Pathology; Dr. Oralia Loza, Public Health Sciences; Ms. Arlette Wethmann, Social Work; Dr. Christopher Medline, UTEP School of Pharmacy
Community Partner: Borderland Rainbow Center
Project Objective: This project aims to address barriers to health equity faced by transgender individuals, including unemployment, homelessness, poor health literacy, and provider disrespect, by developing and implementing a community-based health education program to improve their understanding of the safe use of hormone replacement therapy, speech and voice modification, verified health and wellness resources in the region, and self-advocacy for gender affirming-care. The interdisciplinary program will also foster UTEP students’ competence in gender-affirming care and methods to address health disparities in their community.
“Health Assessment of Mothers and Children Living in Subsidized Housing”
Faculty: Dr. Hyejin Jung, Social Work
Community Partner: Operations HOME (Housing Opportunity Management Enterprises)
Project Objective: This project proposes to conduct a mixed- methods study to assess health and well-being of single mothers and their children living in subsidized housing (HOME) in El Paso, identify factors associated with their health and well-being, and develop culturally responsive intervention strategies that meet the specific needs of this population. The proposed project will also provide students with high impact learning experiences.
“Health Disparities in Spinal Cord Injuries on the US-Mexico Border”
Faculty: Dr. Michelle Gutierrez and Dr. Liliana Jimenez, Physical Therapy; Dr. Yok-Fong Paat, Social Work; Dr. Grisel Contreras, Occupational Therapy
Community Partner: Rio Grande Chapter of the United Spinal Association
Project Objective: The aims of the project are to work with the Rio Grande Chapter of the United Spinal Association to 1) identify the needs of individuals with spinal cord injuries and their families and 2) educate the public about the impact of these experiences and their impact on quality of life, accessibility to preventative and specialty services, and availability of medical treatments on the U.S.-Mexico border.