Center for HealthEquity Advancement




Assistant Professor, Medicine

Project Summary

This summer I worked with a team out of the Center for Health Equity Advancement for Penn Medicine. Guided by the Center’s mission to provide the infrastructure needed to educate, innovate, and advance efforts designed to eliminate health and healthcare disparities, I helped on two initiatives. The first project, the Healthier Together study, evaluated how primary care patients are socially connected and whether their social ties related to their knowledge and adoption of lifestyle behaviors that reduce cancer risk. Using samples from two West Philadelphia clinics to describe social networks and their relations to cancer prevention behavior, the research project transitioned to designing phone application-based interventions to leverage social networks to reduce cancer risks. In this capacity, I participated in snow-ball recruitment, app-designing meetings, data collection via conducted telephone and in-person surveys of patients, and data management. I learned about key concepts related to health equity, social networks, and descriptive data analyses. For the second project, I was given the opportunity to spearhead research related to language services at Penn Medicine facilities. Reducing health and healthcare disparities based on personal characteristics, like race or ethnicity, is a critical issue for health care systems. To advance this work, this project assessed the current state of language access services, primarily translation and interpretation services, at Penn Medicine entities. For this assessment, I utilized data from patient records related to language preference and interpreter usage. In order to gain a qualitative assessment of the current state, I designed and conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with key stakeholders on their perspectives and experiences with language services. This project gave me the opportunity to learn about health care disparities, particularly as it relates to race/ethnicity, ancestry and language, and to learn about the operational workings of health systems. This experience taught me how to construct and conduct semi-structured interviews for qualitative analyses.