Introduction To The Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues (SAAPHI) Scientific Committee

24 May

The primary function of the SAAPHI Scientific Committee is to organize the annual SAAPHI Scientific Symposium at the annual pre-conference meeting.  However in 2012, we expanded our focus to promote research dissemination and translation related to African American health issues.  As such, we established new goals for our committee.  One of these goals was to establish a quarterly webinar series showcasing expert researchers addressing African American health issues.

Thus far, we have hosted two webinars.  The first webinar was the 1st Inaugural Black History Month Webinar held on February 27, 2013 with guest speaker Dr. Stephen B. Thomas. The title of the webinar was “Less Talk More Action: Accelerating Innovative Strategies to Eliminate Health Disparities”.  Dr. Thomas is the Director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland, School of Public Health.  Dr. Thomas is an internationally recognized, African American leader in minority health research and community engagement, with a particular focus on the legacy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and other factors influencing minority participation in research.  In his talk, Dr. Thomas provided definitions of health disparities, health equity, and described a framework for reducing health disparities to facilitate the achievement of health equity.  Dr. Thomas described some innovative methods in pursuit of health equity such as the Healthy Black Family Project:  A Community-Based Demonstration Project Designed for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and the Health Advocates In-Reach and Research (HAIR).  Notable articles written by Dr. Thomas and colleagues on these topics include “Toward a Fourth Generation of Disparities Research to Achieve Health Equity” and “African American barbershops and beauty salons: An innovative approach to reducing health disparities through community building and health education”.

Our second webinar, the National Minority Month Webinar was held on April 10, 2013 featuring Dr. Lisa Bowleg.  Dr. Bowleg is an Associate Professor of Applied Social Psychology Program at George Washington University and is well known for her body of work on the effects of individual-level and social-structural factors (e.g., unemployment, incarceration, racial discrimination) and resilience on Black men’s HIV sexual risk and protective behaviors.  The title of the webinar was “Intersectionality: Theoretical Origins, Methodological Evolutions, and Implications for African American Public Health”.  In her presentation Dr. Bowleg provided a historical context for and highlighted some core tenets of intersectionality.  She also discussed the importance of intersectionality in African American public health and described some of the methodologic challenges with the use of intersectionality in research.

We are working diligently on our last two webinars for this year which will take place in the fall.  We are going to address a topic which has been repeatedly suggested as a topic of interest by our membership, Critical Race Theory.  Stay tuned.

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