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Past Capstones


Africa

Partner Organization: Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Surgical Medical Emergency Unit

Objective:  We examined staff-perceived communication challenges within a Ghanaian emergency department to assess for potential issues to address in future quality improvement efforts.  Methods: Preliminary focused observation within the Surgical Medical Emergency ward (SME) allowed the researchers to understand communication within the local context. After the observation period, specialized focus groups were conducted using a method known as Participatory Ranking Methodology (PRM). Four groups, each containing different cadres of clinical staff, identified communication challenges and ranked these according to importance. The content of these focus groups were analyzed through coding of transcripts. Thematic development proceeded through discussion of the coded transcripts. Results: Four major categories of issues emerged from the discussions in the focus groups, including 1) Handoff of Patient Care, 2) Written Documentation, 3) Communication with Patients and Families, and 4) Teamwork Between Staff. Actionable goals were created from each of these categories and potential solutions were discussed during the sessions. Conclusion:  This project utilizes a participatory style focus group to identify challenges and develop a consensus in setting priorities for quality improvement. Specifically in this project, the groups identified challenges in communication. PRM style focus groups may prove useful in future quality improvement efforts to achieve staff input and buy-in.

Partner Organization: NYU Langone Medical Center and Regional Institute of Population Studies (RIPS)

Diabetes prevalence in many African countries is increasing rapidly. Neglect of the social and psychological dimensions of the diabetes experience in current research presents an opportunity to better understand the perceptions and knowledge of the urban poor who are largely suffering from diabetes mellitus in cities like Accra, Ghana. Results from individual qualitative interviews identify perceptions of diabetes that are interrelated with an individual’s behavior and support networks. Knowledge and perceptions appear related to health‐seeking behaviors, an absence of psychosocial support and to health outcomes. Our findings suggest a need for: population‐based approaches to educate the community about diabetes and pre‐diabetes risk; lifestyle interventions to reduce glucose levels below the threshold criteria for pre‐diabetes; increased access to medications and monitoring of diagnosed patients; and programs that bridge gaps between health professionals and religious leaders to improve health outcomes.

 

Partner Organization: Population Council

Ghana is subject to periodic flooding during the major rainy season in April-July.  The urban poor in the capital of Accra are especially vulnerable to the effects of flooding due to poorly and often illegally built structures, overcrowded living conditions, and inadequate sewage and drainage systems that are often clogged with refuse.  To better understand the concerns of those living in the slums and identify measures to reduce the impact of future floods, we conducted in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and community participatory mapping sessions in the coastal slum communities of Chorkor and Sukura.  Our results suggest that inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure and inattention to the problems by government officials are perceived as primary drivers of flooding.  Unexpectedly, we also identified a weak sense of community, partially a result of distrust of neighbors, unauthorized building and land disputes.  Recommendations for community building and community-based flood mitigation strategies are presented.

Partner Organization: NYU Center for Healthful Behavior Change

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) have become a leading cause of mortality in Ghana. Given Ghana's resource constraints, a cost-effective, population-based primary prevention strategy is needed. This project examined the feasibility of using community health workers (CHW) to implement a CVD prevention program in faith-based organizations (FBO) in Accra.  We utilized a mixed-method study design, including qualitative and quantitative data collection.  We evaluated the following: 1) capacity of FBOs in health program delivery; 2) feasibility to have CHWs deliver a CVD prevention program in FBOs; 3) potential barriers in CVD program implementation and sustainability, and 4) church members' level of CVD knowledge.  Results indicate that FBOs play an important role in community members' health in Accra, and the proposed FBO preventive approach is feasible. However, there are several social-cultural as well as existing health-care factors that need to be considered in CVD program and policy planning. 

Partner Organization: The Longevity Project

Maternal mortality is a problem worldwide, but is particularly devastating in developing countries.  A large number of determinants contribute to maternal mortality rates.  In addition to the obvious direct obstetric and medical factors, innumerable socioeconomic, cultural, and structural factors play a role.  Some research suggests increasing women's knowledge regarding pregnancy, labor, and delivery may positively influence a number of the factors contributing to maternal mortality.  On this premise, this study investigated the status of antenatal education and the antenatal learning needs in Accra, Ghana. Through the use of qualitative methods, the Capstone team conducted participant observation, key informant interviews, focus group discussion with local midwives, and semi-structured interviews with pregnant and recently-delivered Ghanaian women. The final report addresses three key themes: perceived and observed antenatal knowledge gaps; use of storytelling as a method of knowledge transfer within this population; and the emerging role of the hospital as a key supporter in pregnancy and childbirth

Partner Organization: New York City Poison Control Center, as an affiliate of the Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine

Poisoning is a common cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the developing world. An assessment of household poisons including exposure to unintentional poisoning and barriers to safe storage was conducted during a field study in Accra, Ghana in January 2009. In conjunction with the NYC Poison Control Center and the Ghana Poison Information Consultation Centre, this Capstone team examined health-seeking behaviors in the Greater Accra community. Mixed method interviews with community members revealed incidences of kerosene exposure in children due to improper storage practices. Key findings also included the widespread use of palm oil as a first aid technique for kerosene ingestion. Other exposures included ingestion of adult medications, alcohol poisoning, and accidental ingestion of pesticides and rodenticides. A prevention campaign addressing storage of toxic substances and appropriate first aid is essential in improving health outcomes. Successful intervention campaigns must also address deeply held cultural beliefs and health behaviors. 

Partner Organization: Africare Liberia

The maternal mortality ratio in Liberia is one of the highest in the world. Despite services being free, women’s clinic utilization rate remains low. To better understand what motivates women to seek care at health facilities, this study explored factors and patterns of maternal healthcare services utilization with a focus on individual and program‐level indicators. The study utilized a mixed methods approach consisting of quantitative surveys and focus group discussions with women of reproductive age, and in‐depth interviews with healthcare providers in Bong County. Motivating factors identified by this study fall under one of the following categories: awareness/education, accessibility, autonomy, and availability. Our results suggest that community outreach and health education efforts, as well as good quality care and services were important factors that motivated women to utilize clinic‐based services. Women’s autonomy, age, and knowledge of family planning also played a role in shaping their healthcare utilization patterns.

Partner Organization: Concern Worldwide Liberia

While Liberia is not characterized by the extremely high HIV prevalence of some other African countries, HIV remains a pressing health concern for this West African nation. The 2007 Liberian Demographic Health Survey indicated that 1.5% of Liberians aged 15‐49 are infected with HIV, with women and urban dwellers disproportionately affected. To inform evaluation efforts of future HIV/AIDS prevention programs, an HIV/AIDS Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) survey was designed and implemented in consultation with Concern Worldwide Liberia. Ten trained local interviewers collected data from 876 study participants residing in 8 identified communities within Montserrado County that had been the focus of HIV/AIDS information and outreach campaigns by Concern Worldwide. The survey instrument was refined using insights from local research partners and enumerators. Study findings underscore the disconnect between knowledge and practice. Compared to knowledge about risk factors for HIV/AIDS transmission, demographic variables were stronger predictors of risk‐taking behavior.

Partner Organization: Africare Liberia

Approximately 22.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty and inadequate human resources prevent many in Liberia and other rural areas of Africa from accessing treatment.  HIV prevalence in Liberia remains low for the region at 1.5 percent, but rates are growing.  It is an opportune moment for Liberia to establish effective programs for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).  In collaboration with Africare, a formative, qualitative evaluation of existing services and HIV care needs was conducted in the community of Bong County, Liberia.  Focus groups and key informant interviews were conducted with community health volunteers, community members, HIV-positive individuals, and community stakeholders.  A grounded theory approach was used in data analysis.  Themes that emerged regarding barriers to health care access include: lack of basic resources, HIV stigma, and social support needs of PLWHA.  Results from this evaluation informed our recommendations for scaling up HIV services in Bong County. 

Partner Organization: University of Cuttington

Monrovia and Bong County, Liberia

The aim of this study was to assess the relative importance of socio-cultural and health service factors that influence women's decisions regarding the place of delivery (home vs. hospital) which, in turn, have a great impact on maternal mortality. We conducted a qualitative study consisting of interviews and focus groups with pregnant women attending antenatal clinics, family members of women who died during childbirth, and health providers. All interview transcripts were analyzed using a qualitative thematic content approach. A number of themes emerged with regard to the care-seeking behavior of women during pregnancy and childbirth - behavior that is influenced by transport and distance to care; economic constraints; the process of labor; risk perceptions, and the knowledge of possible complications during childbirth. Implications for maternal health are discussed, highlighting the need to improve the quality and accessibility of available maternal care and to address the underlying educational and attitudinal issues of women and health providers. 

Partner Organization: Siyakhana Bezuidenhout Park Permaculture Project, University of Witswatersrand

This capstone team was invited to perform an evaluation of the Siyakhana Bezuidenhout Park Permaculture Project with particular emphasis on the effect the program has had on the lives of the gardeners employed by the project. The research was undertaken in collaboration with the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) School of Public Health.  The Siyakhana Food Garden Project, an inner-city food garden, aims to offer life skills, healthy lifestyles, permaculture and income generation to children attending Early Childhood Development Centers and people living with HIV/AIDS. The evaluation of the garden took place over the course of a 7 month period, including a 10 day visit to Johannesburg to meet with the gardeners and other key actors related to the program. The goal was to provide insight as to how to improve the function of the garden and promote long term sustainability of the project.  

Partner Organization: International Help Uganda Grow (iHUG) and the Kabalagala Community Academy

Many parents living in Kabalagala, Kampala, Uganda experience poverty, low literacy rates, unemployment, chronic infectious disease and mental health problems. These problems, combined with a shortage of health care services and providers, may lead to psychological distress.  Parents who suffer from psychological distress have difficulty nurturing their children, which impacts normal growth and development.  At Kabalagala Community Academy, teachers and staff are attuned to changes in a child's behavior and performance in school that may signal problems at home. Enlisting the help of schools in providing basic mental health and supportive resources for parents is a novel way of assisting the family unit. This descriptive, qualitative study utilized key informant interviews with parents, teachers, staff and local mental health care professionals to identify factors that they perceive as contributing to parental psychological distress. Content analysis of key themes provides suggestions for potential school-based mental health and supportive services. 

Partner Organization: Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria

Malaria is a significant global health problem, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where it continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Ninety percent of the global malaria burden is concentrated in the Sub-Saharan region, presenting a severe obstacle to economic development. Access to preventive and interventive strategies including anti-malarial drugs, insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs), and long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs) have been central to the promotion of malaria health. LLINs are unique in that the netting material is impregnated with insecticide, eliminating the need for re-treatment of ITNs. This Capstone project involved seeking information from experts in the field of malaria control to assess suitable strategies that might be adopted to ensure proper usage of bed nets and replacement of LLINs after their expiry. Specifically the team studied treatment-seeking behaviors as well as the usage and maintenance of ITNs and LLINs by cement factory employees and community members in Kasese, Uganda. 

In partnership with Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria 

Partner Organization:  Concern Worldwide Zambia

Concern Zambia, a branch of the non-governmental organization Concern Worldwide, implemented the "Positive Living Program" for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) four years ago in the Western Province of Zambia. The current rate of HIV infection in this district is around 14 percent. With approximately 200 functional support groups of around 20 members each, Concern estimates they are reaching 7-10 percent of the HIV population in this area with this program of psycho-social support, health/nutrition education, and resource distribution.  The purpose of this project was to evaluate the program's implementation and efficacy, and to provide recommendations for future programming and curriculum development.  The evaluation was based on key informant interviews of staff and program participants, and direct observation of support groups. Program recommendations are made based on the following key themes identified through the evaluation: stigma reduction/psycho-social support; health and nutrition; agricultural assistance/resource distribution; male participation, and future programming/sustainability.

Partner Organization: Concern Worldwide Zambia

HIV prevalence rates in the Western Province of Zambia continue to rise despite the lowering national trend. Studies implicate traditional beliefs and cultural practices as associative factors despite high levels of HIV-related knowledge. To investigate this paradox we teamed up with Concern Zambia to embark on an exploratory study involving both community members and local leadership to determine the link between HIV knowledge and behavior in three Western Province districts. The research focused on individual risk practices and the social and cultural context in which they occurred. The decision to engage in risky behavior for HIV transmission within the Western Province in Zambia is multifactorial. Initial analyses of fieldwork data indicate that gender relations, socioeconomic factors and a lack of infrastructure are important emerging themes. The goal of the research aims to identify strategies that can help mitigate conditions for engagement in HIV risk behavior in the Western Province. 


Asia

Partner Organization: StreetWise Education Foundation

Despite laws to protect children’s rights in Bangladesh, child poverty and harmful consequences remain a serious problem. StreetWise, an organization that provides services to street involved and slum children, commissioned NYU to conduct a participatory evaluation to assess StreetWise from the children’s perspective on their health, well-being, and education; and, develop a pathway for StreetWise students from recruitment to beyond graduation. The evaluation included two weeks of photography by students; student and staff focus groups; in-depth interviews with a health system researcher, pediatrician, and child rights organization; informal discussions with families and site observations. We found that the children were generally happy to live and learn at StreetWise but were concerned about life after the program. The team suggested a student pathway from recruitment to independence by leveraging partnerships. The data suggests a need for a more rigorous data collection system with continued use of photovoice for future monitoring and evaluation.

More than 250,000 children live and work on the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh. StreetWise Education Foundation provides educational and medical services, food and board, and an income to street‐involved children. This Capstone project assessed the program’s implementation, target population, and important contextual factors, additionally providing activities to build program capacity. The formative process evaluation included focus groups, qualitative interviews, observations, and surveys. Analysis of qualitative data utilized a constant‐comparative method. Survey data were triangulated with qualitative data to increase validity. Results showed that StreetWise is a small program in rapid evolution. Contextual factors that impact the program include the children’s social connections with their former street lives and challenges in the family environment. Findings suggest that increasing social capital, community participation in the program, and the provision of vocational training may enhance communication with children and their families and mitigate challenges in the social environment.

Partner Organization: Helen Keller International

Helen Keller International (HKI) tasked NYU's Capstone Team to expand on work that was currently being done on the creation of a centralized, organization-wide monitoring and evaluation system to describe its work, and to measure its progress in achieving its mission. The team was responsible for defining and updating a list of 137 indicators, developing a handbook that would accompany the final indicator list, and making recommendations for the development of a long-term global system that could describe and monitor the work of HKI around the world. The team researched and assimilated the existing literature on the subject, and also reached out to other international NGOs facing similar challenges. The group also conducted a pilot survey and visited the HKI Cambodia office to field test the survey and conduct qualitative research. 

Partner Organization: MAMTA Health Institute of Mother and Child

Adolescents form 50% of the 2.4 million incident cases of HIV in India each year. Through Gender Resource Centers (GRCs), the Meri Life Meri Choice program aims to reduce this population’s HIV vulnerability through sexual and reproductive health information dissemination. Objective: MAMTA Health Institute of Mother and Child commissioned New York University’s Capstone team to study factors impacting utilization of GRCs. Methods: Using purposive sampling, 15 semi-structured, qualitative focus groups and 10 in-depth interviews were conducted with GRC participants, parents, stakeholders and Peer Mentors across three villages in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, India. Using modified grounded theory, researchers coded and analyzed data, identifying themes to guide results and recommendations. Results: Major perceived impact amongst communities is one of social empowerment and personal growth, fueling a unanimous desire to continue GRC programming. Various local and programmatic level suggestions emerged from participants that could expand the reach of programming for future implementation. 

Partner Organization: Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust

Childhood tooth decay continues to be a significant public health problem in both developed and developing countries. The Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust holds yearly dental outreach camps to address the problem in rural India. The overall objectives of this Capstone project were to evaluate the burden of dental caries and risk factors among school students in Mandvi county, Kutch district, Gujarat State, India. We analyzed data from oral health examinations performed during the Trust's 2008 outreach camp. In 2011 we supplemented this data with surveys, interviews and field observations to assess risk factors for dental caries among children attending school.  Our results showed a significant burden of dental caries among school students as well as penetration and diffusion of standard teeth cleaning methods. Limited access to dental care, suboptimal oral hygiene practices, and preference for high sugar-containing beverages by adolescents were identified as risk factors for dental caries among students. 

Partner Organization: Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust

Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections, caused by parasites such as roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), hookworms (various species), and whipworms (Trichuris trichiura), are known to infect more than one billion people worldwide, with over two billion people being at risk for contracting such infections.  Although typically not fatal, chronic STH infections can lead to significant pathologies including anemia, malnutrition, and/or impaired cognitive development, especially in school-age children, the group at highest risk for STH infections.  In coordination with the Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust, a charitable organization in northwestern India, our team utilized a mixed-research methodology to assess the relevant health knowledge and attitudes, health behaviors, risk factors and socio-ecological variables that are associated with STH infections among school-age children in the rural regions of Kutch, India.   

Partner Organization: Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN)

This evaluation examined the efforts of Volunteer Initiatives Nepal (VIN)’s health and hygiene program in Jitpur Phedi, Nepal. Objectives: to measure the program’s impact on health behaviors, knowledge, and outcomes, to evaluate the challenges and successes of the program, and to provide recommendations for improvement. Methods: Data was gathered using purposive & convenience sampling: 1) interview-assisted household surveys, 75 from the intervention village and 42 from a comparison village, 2) two focus groups of community members, 3) five in-depth stakeholder interviews, and 4) observations of the individuals surveyed and their environments. Using grounded theory, qualitative data was coded and examined through thematic analysis. Descriptive statistics were run to analyze quantitative data. Findings: Toilet construction and awareness campaigns have helped to reduce open defecation in Jitpur Phedi. Further, there were improvements in health awareness, behavior, and outcomes in the community, due in part to VIN’s involvement, but continued effort is warranted.

Objective: To better understand the knowledge about chronic respiratory diseases and the practices that may be impacting chronic respiratory diseases (CRD) among women in Jitpur, Nepal. Methods: A rapid needs assessment study was conducted in the rural village of Jitpur, Nepal. A mixed methods approach was utilized encompassing key informant interviews, focus groups, household observations, surveys, and a review of secondary data provided by the Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN) organization. Results: A total of 161 women were surveyed with a mean age of 37 years old (±1.14).The majority (58%) of women stated having at least one member who smoked cigarettes and only 23% of respondents use facemasks. The majority (68%) of women stated having some knowledge of CRD. Persistent cough was reported as a re-occurring respiratory symptom and high-utilization of traditional healing practices within community. Respondents identified household consumption of wood for cooking purposes as one the frequent sources of respiratory disease among women. Conclusion: Health promotion regarding prevention interventions may lead to improvements in the quality of life for women in Jitpur, Nepal.

In Nepal, violence against women (VAW) is widespread and significantly impacts women’s health and well-being. Objectives: HealthRight International, an organization that prioritizes public health and human rights issues facing women, commissioned New York University’s Capstone team to conduct a multi-level qualitative assessment to: 1) identify existing services and community needs to address VAW; 2) summarize current policies affecting VAW programming and services; and 3) assist in identifying strategic program interventions based on findings. Methods: Using purposive sampling, 25 semi-structured interviews and 7 focus group discussions were conducted with key stakeholders and community members within three districts in Nepal. Systematic literature reviews were also performed. Using modified grounded theory, the team coded, analyzed and interpreted data, identifying themes using Dedoose software. Results: Findings emphasized the need to implement current policies, enhance VAW reporting mechanisms, raise awareness, improve VAW-related training, and strengthen coordination between government and NGOs in order to protect women.

Partner Organization: National Telehealth Center, University of Phiippines

Rural doctors delivering healthcare in the Philippines are faced with numerous challenges. Geographic isolation and remoteness of areas served make it increasingly difficult to provide quality healthcare. In response, the National Telehealth Center (NThC) facilitates SMS and e‐mail communications between rural doctors (DTTBs) and medical specialists to provide specialty care to rural populations. The purpose of this project was to evaluate the telemedicine program to determine the perceived value among its users, its adaptability and acceptability, and the program’s potential to address health access inequities. We conducted key informant interviews with 17 rural doctors, NThC staff and medical specialists situated in rural sites and Manila. Results indicate that telemedicine was most valuable for referring difficult cases and soliciting second opinion and providing improved quality of service that would have been otherwise unavailable. Recommendations include stronger delineation between the NThC and Department of Health responsibilities, inclusion of other healthcare providers, such as nurses and community health workers, in the program, and expansion of the program to additional sites.


Middle East

Partner Organization: NYU Abu Dhabi Public Health Research Center

Background: Hookah service businesses provide ready to use hookah directly to consumers. The operations and economics of these businesses are poorly understood. Objective: The NYU Abu Dhabi Public Health Research Center commissioned NYU’s capstone team to conduct a concurrent mixed method study to describe the economic environment and hookah related health effects expressed by operators within the industry. Methods: A convenience sample of 97 structured surveys and semi-structured interviews were completed within NYC (32), Abu Dhabi (24), Al Ain (9), and Dubai (34). Observational data was collected at 111 businesses. Quantitative survey data was merged with qualitative data coded and analyzed for themes using Dedoose software.


North America

Partner Organization: Hesperian Health Guides

Objective: To evaluate the usability, accessibility, navigation and information sharing behaviors of HealthWiki users. Methods: 232 online surveys and 7 in-depth interviews were collected and analyzed. The user experience assessment identified demographics and perception of the HealthWiki. Qualitative thematic coding identified the subjective and contextual experience of wiki users. Results: Findings documented that the Hesperian mission to provide accessible and appropriate health information was reinforced by the HealthWiki. Usability and accessibility were appropriate for low resource settings. Site navigation and name recognition appeared to be the greatest challenges. Various suggestions for increasing outreach to more populations and ideas for new products also emerged.

Partner Organization: EcoHealth Alliance

Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) are important global public health issues. EcoHealth Alliance (EHA), a nonprofit organization, developed the Sicki Project to unravel the origins of EID events and generate predictive models by analyzing global EID outbreaks. Objective: We developed a standardized tool to quantify the ‘strength of evidence’ of articles archived in the Sicki database, increasing its scientific utility. Methods: The team systematically reviewed articles in the database and examined literature on measuring tools to identify best practices in research meta-analysis techniques. We developed a tool with a scoring metric composed of nine categories to apply to the archived articles to quantify the ‘strength of evidence’. Our research process was corroborated by expert consultation. We then piloted the tool, calculating the reliability of the scoring process with a Fleiss’ Kappa Score. Results/Conclusions: Our scoring tool is a useful and viable measure to quantify the ’strength of evidence' in EID databases.

Partner Organization: Catholic Guardian Services (CGS) Center for Evidence-Based Implementation and Research

Psychotropic medications are prescribed to foster children at considerably higher rates compared to the general population. In partnership with Catholic Guardian Services, the Capstone team identified factors associated with psychotropic medication use among foster care children through a chart review and conducted thematic analysis based on qualitative data from focus groups. Over half of the sample had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and almost a quarter had been on psychotropic medication. Risk factors included having a mood or behavioral disorder and number of lateral movements. Kinship care was found to be a protective factor. Themes that emerged from the focus groups included fear of the unknown and lack of autonomy. Feelings of dependency were expressed about relationships with social services and receiving therapy. Our findings indicate a need for more support during periods of transition to mitigate emotional distress and monitoring of medication prescription for foster care children.

Objective: The goals of this project, launched with the Brooklyn District Public Health Office (BKDPHO) were to characterize the food retail environment as perceived and experienced by local residents, store owners, and community based organizations in the neighborhoods of Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn, New York. Methods: A mixed method approach was applied using triangulation of the following data collection methods: photography, narrative inquiry, geographic information system, and a food retail assessment survey. Information emerging from the data about the socio-cultural, physical, economic, and political environment was analyzed with a conceptual framework (the ANGELO model). Results: The main themes that emerged were: pursuing “food justice issues”, encouraging “sustainable change” and focusing on the “ownership and organization of food retailers. Conclusion: Because community and context-specific data about the eating environments in Brownsville and East New York are still only emerging and given the complexities of implementing a comprehensive obesity prevention program, we believe it necessary to apply a systematic approach to prioritize future research, intervention strategies, and impact evaluation.


Partner Organizations: Chinatown YMCA and NYU Center for Study of Asian-American Health

Asian American youth are underrepresented in the extant literature related to adolescent health and well‐being. One important and increasingly growing Asian American subgroup is Chinese youth in NYC. To better characterize the health and wellness needs of this population, we conducted a community‐based assessment of Chinese youth residing in Manhattan’s Chinatown area, together with a case study of the Chinatown YMCA. Our qualitative approach integrated an ecological systems perspective with adapted grounded theory. Data collection involved in‐depth interviews with key informants, focus groups with Asian youth and their families, and community mapping of existing health and social welfare services. Recommendations center on two core findings: 1) Greater attention should be paid to the development of family‐focused interventions in order to best address the needs of Chinese youth; and 2) Ongoing change to the environmental context in which the Chinatown YMCA operates highlights the importance of strategic planning and staff development.

Partner Organization: NYU B Free CEED

Hepatitis B Virus infection (HBV) is a major public health problem among Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) living in the United States. In 2007, the NYU B Free CEED Project developed a social marketing campaign to eliminate hepatitis B disparities in the API communities of New York City. The campaign, ‘B Certain’ was formally launched in 2011. The primary focus of this Capstone research project was to develop methods of evaluating this campaign. Through an analysis of previously collected focus group data and a review of literature, the Capstone team developed an evaluation that included post‐ implementation focus group guides, street intercept surveys, and a comprehensive community survey to evaluate the B Certain campaign. Furthermore, a landing page displaying culturally sensitive information regarding hepatitis B was also created. The next stage of the initiative will be to execute the assessment of the ‘B Certain’ campaign.

Partner Organization: African Refuge, Inc.

African Refuge, Inc., a grassroots organization based on Staten Island, NY, seeks to improve access to health resources for Liberian refugees. In collaboration with African Refuge, we conducted a health needs assessment among Liberian refugees living in the Park Hill section of Staten Island. The aim of the assessment was to identify the three major health needs in this community. The health needs assessment followed an iterative mixed-method approach. We conducted three focus group discussions as well as twelve key informant interviews. Furthermore, we analyzed public use data such as the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Community Health Survey, as well as data provided by the collaborating organization.  Major health needs identified by the community included: health insurance, accessible health/social services in the neighborhood, and self-management tools related to chronic diseases. The results of this study are summarized in the form of a curriculum for health literacy workshops and are meant to support African Refuge in its efforts to improve disease prevention and health care among Liberian refugees. These workshops take the different levels of health literacy among the community members into account.

Partner Organization: Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center

Diabetes is an emerging global public health problem and a leading cause of mortality worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 23.6 million adults have diabetes. Evidence suggests that higher rates of diabetes, diabetes-related complications, morbidity, and mortality disproportionately affect African Americans, Latinos, and the socio- economically disadvantaged. In New York City, diabetes was the fourth leading cause of death in 2006. Diabetes disproportionately affects Central Brooklyn and East New York as compared to other neighborhoods in New York City, with approximately 16% of the population diagnosed with diabetes. This Capstone project was an assessment of diabetes quality of care at the Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center. Using a mixed methods approach involving electronic medical record extraction, patient diabetic-care surveys and key informant interviews, the project considered structural and systemic gaps in diabetic health care delivery and provided recommendations for improvement.


South America

Objective: This project evaluated the interface between mental health services and primary care for youth< 24 in the District of Liberdade in Salvador, Bahia Brazil. Methods: Utilizing a mixed methods protocol, we conducted quantitative analysis using secondary data collected from Brazil’s federal database, DATASUS, on hospital and community care units in Salvador, Bahia and an interior neighborhood of Liberdade. We also conducted qualitative analysis included fourteen key informant interviews and two focus groups held with service providers from a primary care unit part of Brazil’s ‘Family Health Program’ (FHP), and a specialized unit for mental health treatment for youth (CAPSIA) in the District of Liberdade. Results: Five central themes emerged from the synthesized qualitative data: Human resources, structural resources, utilization, treatment and attitudes and beliefs. These themes and their sub-categories were analyzed as a means to identify gaps in service provision, the integration of health units, and barriers to care. Limitations of available secondary data restricted the quantitative analysis to service usage including age, gender, race and diagnostic categories. Conclusion: While positive strides have been made, the identified barriers create challenges to the integration of mental health service provision between identified facilities and the implementation of mental health national policies with broad success.

Organization: Instituto de Saúde Coletiva (ISC) of the Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA) 

In the 1990s Brazil reformed mental health treatment in order to move from a hospital-based to a community-based model. As part of this reform, Brazil established a new network of mental health ambulatory treatment centers known as Psychosocial Community Centers, which were linked to the primary care centers, linked to the Family Health Program. The purpose of this Capstone was to evaluate the impact of the mental health reform in Salvador. Using a mixed methods approach, we conducted focus groups and key informant interviews with health care providers, community health workers and administrative professionals in order to assess referral patterns, satisfaction with the new system, and challenges associated with providing mental health care services. We also analyzed Salvador's ambulatory services and hospitalization database to determine the most common reasons for patients using the system. Our analysis suggested that reform has succeeded in increasing usage of ambulatory services, but we also identified persistent systematic deficiencies in the mental health network in Salvador. 

Partner Organization: Instituto de Saúde Coletiva (ISC) of the Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA) 

This Capstone was a collaborative effort from both NYU and Instituto de Saúde Coletiva (ISC) of the Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA) to study several aspects of violence suffered by adolescents in the city of Salvador, the capital of Bahia, Brazil. The team evaluated trends of mortality rates due to violence in 10-19 year-olds in Bahia and attempted to identify potential risk factors including measures of urbanization and education. The group also collected and analyzed qualitative data to explore the context of violence and violent deaths in the young population in Salvador. The group traveled to Salvador in March, 2008 to analyze multiple Brazilian databases and conduct key informant interviews.

One goal of primary care is to provide better health for all. One method of assessing the impact of primary care is via "primary care-sensitive hospitalizations", a set of conditions for which effective outpatient care can reduce hospitalization risk. &nbsp;These are important to measure, describe and monitor in order to develop quality improvement actions, evaluate the impact of investments, and develop monitoring and evaluation tools for the public health system. Using a mixed-methods approach, we assessed the impact of Brazil’s Family Health Program on hospitalization trends in three common causes of hospitalizations for children under age 5 in metropolitan Salvador. A quantitative analysis (for 1999-2007) via an ecological study design, using panel data with fixed effects, indicated positive correlations for pneumonia and negative correlations for asthma and gastroenteritis. Qualitative data provided a richer context to better understand the trends in hospitalization rates and the associated impact on public health in Bahia.

Partner Organization:  Pan American Health Organization

Equity in health across the Americas is a major concern of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).  PAHO considers the measurement and monitoring of socio-economic (SE) inequalities in health an important step towards developing effective health policies and reducing equity gaps within and between countries. This study was conducted to develop a tool for the assessment of health disparities in terms of SE inequality. Using the 2003 and 1994 DHS Bolivia datasets, the Capstone team constructed an asset-based index of SE status including education as an indicator. They employed the Slope Index of Inequality and Relative Index of Inequality measures to analyze SE inequalities in health across the population groups. A key discovery of the research was the methodological process whereby socio-economic inequalities in health can be measured; furthermore, this process tool can be implemented by Ministries of Health in Latin America towards evaluation efforts and policy-making.  

Partner Organization: Center for Healthful Behavior Change

With increasing diversity in the U.S. population, health centers are faced with cross-cultural communication barriers thus challenging medical schools to incorporate cultural competency into their curriculum. Objective: To develop a standardized curriculum based on paired learning experiences in Ecuador for teaching cultural competency to US medical students. Methods: Capstone team members, observing health workers in Ecuador, developed a case-based module for teaching NYU medical students. Students were observed as they interviewed standardized patients trained in Ecuadorian customs and beliefs that highlighted the teaching points and core competencies contained in the dialogue.Students received feedback from the Capstone team and the standardized patient. Results: Awareness of socio-cultural narrative and improvement in communication skills during patient assessment. Conclusion: Using a conceptual approach that combined knowledge with skill based learning, NYU students were able to identify cultural/medical beliefs and practices for improving communication skills important in physician-patient communication and patient satisfaction.

Objective. Basic Health International (BHI) is a non-profit organization focusing on cervical cancer. It has tested over 9,000 women in El Salvador through a low-cost screening and treatment method known as Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA). This study identifies strategies to expand the VIA program to all regions of El Salvador, led by the country’s Ministry of Health (MOH). Methods.We used a mixed-methods approach in evaluating this program, conducting quantitative surveys with healthcare providers and qualitative interviews with various stakeholders. Results.VIA training performed by BHI is well accepted by healthcare providers and those who reported easier access to VIA support were four times as likely to have performed VIA recently as those who did not. Lack of resources, concerns about sensitivity, gaps in knowledge and lack of a cervical cancer policy are barriers for the expansion of VIA. Conclusion.For VIA to become viable across all regions of El Salvador, the MOH has to take over the program from BHI, which can act as a consultant.

Partner Organization: BasicHealth - El Salvador

Students collaborated with BasicHealth to conduct research in order to provide information to the El Salvador Ministry of Health regarding the implementation of Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA), a type of cervical cancer screening, in El Salvador. The research project was designed to investigate why Salvadorian health care providers who have been trained by BasicHealth are not incorporating the VIA screening and cryotherapy treatment into their practice. The study consisted of a mixed method approach (qualitative and quantitative elements) with the following five components: health care provider interviews, program trainer interviews, national and local stakeholder interviews, a health promoter meeting, and a patient exit survey. In November 2007, one research team member accompanied a BasicHealth delegation to El Salvador to observe VIA training. The research team member witnessed the training and delivery of services to women receiving VIA. These observations laid the groundwork for identifying themes and questions that would be used in subsequent interviews and meetings with providers, trainers, stakeholders and health promoters, including a visit to El Salvador by the entire team in January of 2008.

Partner Organization: Naturopathic Medicine for Global Health

In 2011, Naturopathic Medicine for Global Health began to implement a community health worker (CHW) program, which aims to improve health outcomes among the underserved Indigenous Mayans. This study assessed the implementation, fidelity, usefulness, and community perceptions of a naturopathic medicine‐based CHW program in Panajachel, Guatemala. We conducted in‐depth interviews and focus groups with the program’s CHWs, other key informants, and patients enrolled in the program. Our interviews show that the CHW program can potentially fill a vital role in the community, particularly serving the marginalized Indigenous Mayan population. A general acceptance of naturopathic medicine dovetails well with an overall scarcity of resources in the health system. However, loosely structured protocols for CHWs, inconsistent enrollment criteria for patients, and blurred program autonomy currently constrain program success. The naturopathic‐based CHW program has the potential to provide accessible and culturally acceptable, low cost health care to vulnerable populations.

 

Students in South Africa
students in zambia
students in Brazil
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