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Your Environment. Your Health.

Culturally Appropriate Communications in Environmental Health Sciences Research

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

February 15, 2019


NIEHS has long encouraged research that addresses community concerns and that fully involves community members in a collaborative process. To ensure effective community engagement in research, early community-based participatory research advocates noted the importance of developing and maintaining mutually respectful and dynamic partnerships. One way investigators demonstrate their respect for community partners is by using culturally appropriate forms of communication in the informed consent process; during recruitment, interviews, and home or clinic visits; and, most importantly, when disseminating research findings and developing risk communications. Even survey questions require culturally aware approaches to ensure that the information sought is characterized in terms that are understandable and consistent with local cultures. This webinar explored how two investigators have implemented culturally appropriate communications in their studies of environmental risks among Latino cleaning staff and Native American women. Although their approaches differ, as they are based on the cultural context and environmental health literacy of their respective community partners, each investigator relies on similar underlying principles of cultural sensitivity.



Sherry Baron, M.D., M.P.H.

Sherry Baron, M.D., M.P.H., is a professor and a faculty member at the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at Queens College. She is also an affiliate professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. Before joining Queens College in 2014, she spent 25 years as a researcher at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Her research focuses on understanding the role of work on health and wellbeing from a social-determinants-of-health perspective. Her research aims to document the magnitude of disproportionate exposure to work hazards for low-wage, immigrant, and precarious workers and the barriers they face in accessing safer work practices and programs. Her current research focuses on low-income and immigrant communities in New York City and explores how environmental exposures at the workplace and in the community can impact health.

Isabel Cuervo, Ph.D.

Isabel Cuervo, Ph.D. has a doctorate in environmental psychology from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and currently serves as a senior research associate at the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at Queens College. She collaborates on community-engaged research projects that are dedicated to improving the health of immigrant working populations in New York City. In recognition of her work, the Annie E. Casey Foundation named her a scholar in the 2017-2018 Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity cohort.

Javier Gallardo

Javier Gallardo leads the Workers' Health and Safety Program at Make the Road New York. He supervises a team of trainers, develops training curricula, and facilitates occupational safety and health workshops throughout the greater New York City area. He is a leader in the "Safe and Just Cleaning Research & Action Campaign," a community-based participatory research project in collaboration with the Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment at Queens College and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He combines more than 12 years of experience in labor and community organizing with his passion for health and safety to create more resilient workplaces.

Jada Brooks, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., R.N.

Jada Brooks, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., R.N. is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Nursing. Her research advances knowledge of inflammation as a potential biological pathway linking environmental pollutant exposure and psychosocial factors to cardiovascular disease in American Indian women. Her research program is designed to inform low-cost and culturally based psychosocial interventions that seek to reduce American Indian women’s susceptibility to environmental pollutants, thus promoting environmental health equity among this population.

Kim Pevia

Kim Pevia is a life strategist, keynote speaker, and workshop facilitator. Her company, K.A.P. Inner Prizes, specializes in identifying and addressing issues that serve as obstacles to personal development. Her favorite topics include emotional intelligence, gifts of conflict, impacts of historical trauma, cultural healing, and the innocuous nature of fear, most of which she includes in race, equity, and inclusion work. Born and educated in Baltimore, Maryland, she currently lives in Robeson County, North Carolina, where her roots run deep as a member of the Lumbee Tribe. She serves on many local, state, and national boards that support community activism and local economies through the arts, food, culture, and tourism.

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