SCR CONNECTions will be back with new programming later this year, but we still have lots to share with you here on Blogadillo! Over the next several weeks, in case you missed it (ICYMI), we will be recapping some of the exceptional webinars that NNLM SCR has hosted over the course of the past year. If you would like to access an archived version of this webinar along with others we have hosted, please click here.
In case you missed it, our January 9, 2019 webinar was conducted by Jylana Sheats, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Tulane University. She shared with us her research on health behavior modification and how technology affects chronic illness in select New Orleans, Louisiana communities. Her aim is to reduce obesity and chronic disease-related problems among underserved and vulnerable communities via development of both individual- and community-centered technological resources.
Dr. Sheats began by introducing mHealth, a term which broadly describes mobile health devices and programs such as wearable trackers and apps. Mobile phone use is pervasive in most American communities, so Dr. Sheats is focused on meeting people where they are by promoting health via mobile devices. Mobile intervention research is underrepresented in racial/ethnic minority groups; in her studies, she examined how these mobile devices and programs could be beneficial to personal and community health, and how they could be used to encourage “health behavior change”.
Two separate studies were outlined in this presentation.
The first study used a survey to examine obesity-related health perceptions and behaviors of African American/Black communities in New Orleans in order to “inform the development of a mHeath diet intervention”. Based on responses from survey, Dr. Sheats developed and adapted mobile health intervention text messages and videos based on criteria outlined by respondents. She worked with an African American chef to create “cooking videos to model healthy cooking practices” for the target population. After these resources were created, feedback from members of this population was used to revise messaging, tailor-making it to increase overall efficacy of health behavior change communication. After refining this content, a feasibility study was conducted to assess the resources created as a result of this research.
Study number two, OurVoice NOLA, conducted in conjunction with the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Stanford Medicine, used the Health Neighborhood Discovery Tool mobile app to help “Citizen Scientists” in New Orleans identify areas of their neighborhoods which either helped or hindered positive health behavior. Participants took a 20-30 minute walk and recorded, via photos and audio, their impressions of neighborhood features which could potentially affect healthy behavior. The walks were mapped; the maps and impressions were recorded in hopes that community stakeholders and representatives could visualize problem areas and enact policy change to improve their respective jurisdictions. Use of the Health Neighborhood Discovery Tool aims to empower community members to report issues and suggest actionable changes which affect community health and to facilitate communication among neighbors about the areas in which they live. OurVoice research is being conducted internationally.
Moving forward, Dr. Sheats plans to share her research with the communities where it was conducted, develop resources to address findings, increase awareness of community resource availability, and communicate with peers how to continue programs and projects like these in New Orleans.
To learn more about OurVoice research, click here.
This webinar is available to watch on YouTube, and Dr. Sheats’ contact information is listed below.
Jylana L. Sheats, PhD, MPH
Look out for blog posts in the coming weeks which will recap more NNLM SCR webinars.