Public Health: Research Findings and Community Efforts

public health milestones, public health at Bastyr

Published Study Takes a Look at Veteran Disparities

Kara Bensley, PhD, MSc, contributed to a study led by colleagues from the University of Washington and the Veterans Health Administration, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. The study found that there were disparities between race/ethnicity and gender for those who received Brief Interventions (BI) among veterans who screened positive for unhealthy alcohol use within a national health system. Brief interventions are alcohol-related advice from providers to reduce or abstain from drinking. Notably, Black women (67%), Black men (68%) and Asian/Pacific Islander women (68%) were least likely to receive BI relative to other racial/ethnic and gender groups. This highlights the importance of studies examining intersectional differences in receipt of care. The authors state,
“Our findings suggest that, among veterans, receipt of BI for unhealthy alcohol use varied by race/ethnicity and gender, and that the impact of one social position on receipt of alcohol-related care depended on the other.”

As these disparities were found in a health system that has implemented universal alcohol screening and incentivized BI receipt for all patients with unhealthy alcohol use, the authors suggest that targeted interventions may be needed to reduce disparities in alcohol-related care.

Faculty Member Joins Snohomish County Board

Also in 2020, Dr. Robin Fenn was selected as one of seven founding board members to create the Sound Foundation for Public Health of Snohomish County, the first of its kind in Washington State. Public health dollars are scarce in comparison to the number of needs. In 2020, in addition to COVID-19, the biggest public health crises were substance abuse/opioids, suicide, and a decline the mental health of Snohomish County youth. Created in response to this need for more funds, the Foundation hopes to increase the funding available to the Snohomish Health District by means of philanthropic fundraising and targeted grant writing. 

“I am excited to be a part of this new endeavor!   We have all seen in recent times the need for public health initiatives that will help create positive health outcomes for our communities and the creation of this foundation will assist in moving these initiatives forward.  This foundation will serve as a model for our region as well as create networking opportunities that will not only benefit our students but our community as a whole.”

Students and Faculty Present Capstone Projects at Virtual Conference

The 2020 Washington State Public Health Association Conference “Leveraging Science, Partnerships, and Community for Health” was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Bastyr MPH Faculty, current students, and alumna presented at the conference. Notably, Dr. Logan Rost, ND, MPH (’20) presented her capstone project “Utilization of GIS and Community Health Workers to Identify and Address Comorbid Diabetes and Depression in Okanogan County, WA” and Megan Moore (’17) presented her current work at Kitsap County Health Department in a fantastic oral presentation “Local and State Substance Use Prevention Policy Efforts.” Three posters were also presented this year. Dr. Bensley, PhD MSc presented her work on “Social Vulnerability and Internet Access in WA State: Implication for eHealth and Telemedicine,” Anne Hocker (’20) presented her capstone project “Community-Based Doula (CBD) Training Program Evaluation at Global Perinatal Services,” and Salome Koloffon-Tella presented the project she completed for her 2020 Social Determinants of Health class, “Neighborhoods with p-patches in Seattle associated with the percentage of households below the poverty level.”

For more information about Bastyr’s Master of Public Health Program, click here.