Public Interest Convention Highlights
Addressing Obesity and Health Disparities in the Nation’s Children
Among APA President Suzanne Bennett Johnson’s 2012 priorities is expanding psychology’s role in addressing the crisis of childhood obesity in this country. As part of the Presidential Program at the recent APA Annual Convention, researchers and practitioners presented the latest information on approaches and programs for addressing obesity and related health disparities for children. Chaired by Dr. Monica Mitchell, the symposium explored the multidetermined contextual risks for childhood obesity and the contribution of the social environment to related health inequalities, as well as innovative strategies for improving healthy eating and fitness in urban schools, through family and community interventions, and in underserved community settings, including Native American reservations.
Dr. Barbara Fiese presented a sociocultural model of contextual risk factors for obesity. She discussed how the six C’s — cells (the genetic level), child, clan (the family environment), community, country (national policies) and culture — impact children’s health behaviors, including food choices. Mitchell summarized data from three interventions demonstrating that increased exposure to fruits and vegetables works to increase children’s consumption of these healthy foods. Dr. Maureen M. Black discussed parents’ lack of understanding of overweight in their children, and principles of behavior management that enable parents to positively affect their children’s health. Drs. Tami Jollie-Trottier and David Janicke talked about challenges in engaging underserved populations who may lack access to the resources on which successful interventions may be based. Efforts to engage families must be sensitive to their needs, resources and cultural structure, all of which may impact the families’ ability to benefit from programs aimed at improving food choice and fitness behaviors.
Twenty Years of Injury and Violence Prevention: Celebrating the Past and Protecting the Future
Injury is the number one cause of death of Americans between the ages of 1 and 44. During APA’s convention, PI Executive Editor Dr. Gwendolyn Keita welcomed Dr. Linda C. Degutis, Director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), who presented on 20 years of efforts by the NCIPC to address injury and violence prevention. Based on burden and impact, NCIPC has identified four focus areas: motor vehicle crashes, violence against children and youth, traumatic brain injury and prescription drug overdose. The center collects a wide variety of data and statistics, funds public and private organizations conducting injury work and focuses on public communication through targeted messages. Degutis stressed the aim of growing the field of injury and violence prevention, arguing that this could be the public health achievement of the next decade.
Immigration, Race and Disparities: Health Care, Education and Employment
How first and second generation immigrant-origin individuals experience and cope with racism and disparities in health care, education, and employment was explored in this APA convention symposium, chaired by Dr. Pratyusha Tummala-Narra. Participants Dr. Kevin L. Nadal, Dr. Germine H. Awad, and Dr. Guillermo Prado presented on each of the three settings, and highlighted how racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and other social identities shape and are shaped through the immigration process. Discussant Dr. Carola Suárez-Orozco closed the session with a summary and comments and questions from the audience.
Sponsors: Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest; Division 45; Committee on Aging; Committee on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology; Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs; Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns; Committee on Postsecondary Accreditation; Committee on Socioeconomic Status; Committee on Women in Psychology; Minority Fellowship Program.
Women Under Siege: Disparities and Despair
Women and girls are disproportionately victims of gender-related violence and discrimination, sexual assault and exploitation, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, and poverty. Dr. Cynthia de las Fuentes chaired this APA convention symposium, which expanded on the definition of health disparities and explored the contributing factors to these disparities such as gender, race/ethnicity, disability, lack of education, and socioeconomic status. Other presenters included Drs. Dolores Cimini, Bryanna French, Ramani Durvasula, and Faye Reimers.
- Women with disabilities report emotional, physical, or sexual abuse at the same rate of women without disabilities.
- Black women’s sexuality is rooted in racialized and gendered oppression.
- Internalizing sexual stereotypes can harm self-esteem of women and girls.
- HIV must be addressed from a social justice perspective (e.g., poverty/access to care, trauma, psychosocial factors, trafficking, reproductive health, mental health, IPV, international picture, and risk, prevention and power).
- Women make up 70 percent of the world’s poor and more than 50 percent of America's poor – poverty results in abuse, trafficking, trauma, and widespread violations of human rights.
Sponsors: Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest; ad hoc Committee on Psychology and AIDS; Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology; Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs; Committee on Socioeconomic Status; Committee on Women in Psychology.
Promoting the Health and Wellness of Women with Disabilities
2010 U.S. Census reports that 28 million women (21 years of age or older) in the U.S. have disabilities, and approximately 52 percent of women aged 65 or older report living with a disability.
- Prevalence is expected to increase.
- Women generally have a higher rate of disability than men.
- Disparities in healthcare among women with disabilities is amply documented.
- Have limited access to health care,
- Have an increased prevalence of secondary complications, and
- Have diminished quality of life.
- Women with disabilities are also less likely to receive screenings for conditions common to all women.
Dr. Nancy Sidun chaired this APA convention symposium based upon research presented at the 2011 Inequity to Equity Conference, and highlighted recommendations for research and training for psychologists and other health care and service providers working with women with disabilities. Presenters included Dr. Shari Miles-Cohen, Dr. Erin Andrews, and Dr. Kathleen S. Brown. Dr. Julie Williams served as Discussant.
Sponsors: Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest; Committee on Aging; Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology; Committee on Women in Psychology.