ATSDR Fellowships

SOPHE is pleased to announce the 2011 class of fellows for the SOPHE/CDC/ATSDR Student Fellowships in Environmental Health/Emergency Preparedness. This one year fellowship is designed to recognize, assist and train students working on research or practice-based projects from perspective environmental health and/or emergency preparedness. All of the fellows will receive a $1500 stipend, one-year student membership in SOPHE, and an opportunity to present their work at the SOPHE annual meeting in Washington, DC from October 25-27, 2011.

This year our fellows are: Stephane McKissick, Masters in Public Health candidate at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA; and Elizabeth Kaster, Masters in Public Health candidate at Texas A&M University.

Stephane McKissick

Environmental asthma triggers in children of native-born Haitians

Background: Children, especially African-American children, are more affected by asthma than adults. One of the major symptoms of asthma is stress. African-American children, whose parents are natives of Haiti, may have been indirectly affected by the stresses of the trauma caused by events such as the 2011 earthquake in Haiti.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to contribute to improving the health and quality of life of African-American children by considering stress and traumatic events as the environmental triggers of asthma. The study will use the concept of peer-mentoring, peer-teaching, and the use of dramatic play to increase asthma awareness in African-American children, ages 5 to 17, whose parents are native-born Haitians.

Methodology: The intervention will be held at a local Haitian church in Atlanta. The four week intervention will involve dividing the participants in three groups: participants in elementary school, middle school, and high school. A pretest and posttest will be given. The subjects will be asked to participate in a facilitated discussion about asthma and environmental asthma triggers, with a focus on traumatic events as a stressor. The participants will then be asked to develop a form of dramatic play to use to as teaching methods to educate other participants, and eventually the church community, about asthma and asthma triggers.

Conclusions/Results: It is expected that the use of peer-mentoring, peer-teaching, and dramatic play will increase asthma awareness in African-American children, ages 5-17, of native-born Haitians.

Elizabeth Kaster

Emergency Preparedness for Pandemic Influenza in Texas

The outbreak of the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) necessitates evaluation of the public health emergency preparedness in order to effectively respond to public health threats and disasters. Based on a previous qualitative study, which examined preparedness level for pandemic influenza among key leaders in Brazos County, Texas; this two-phase study will examine organizational leaderships across Texas regarding emergency preparedness for pandemic influenza.

In phase one of the study, we will evaluate emergency preparedness and response to pandemic influenza outbreaks. Key leaders from all 254 counties in Texas will be requested to complete a survey based on a prior qualitative study completed in 2010. The 2010 qualitative study found four main areas needing to be addressed, including vaccinations, communication, logistical issues, and evaluation/feedback. Recommendations from this previous study also called for improving preparedness plans, addressing biosecurity issues, increasing public health education, and increasing the use of technology.

Thus, in phase two of the study, we will develop health education programs for emergency preparedness awareness and response among certain key leaders and the public based on results from the completed survey in phase one. Preliminary findings from the phase one of the study will be presented.

SOPHE is excited to partner with CDC/ATSDR to provide support to train new researchers and practitioners in both injury prevention and environmental health promotion.