This summer, I worked with Dr. Irene Wong in the School of Social Policy and Practice on two projects. The first study assessed how stigma against mental illnesses and HIV/AIDS affected the health of people with mental disorders in rural China . The second study piloted a training intervention for Chinese rural healthcare providers to reduce mental health stigma through improving the providers’ capacity for empathy.
I spent most of June in China assisting in data collection for the two studies before returning to Philly for the rest of the summer. My daily responsibilities included data entry, data cleaning, and data management. I also scored survey responses, ran a variety of statistical tests on the data, and wrote codebooks for the data from the two studies. Additionally, I was privileged enough to meet healthcare providers and family members of patients while in China. I learned about various effects of healthcare policies and mental health beliefs, as well as different perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of China’s healthcare system. It was extremely interesting to compare and contrast the ways individuals on different levels of the Chinese healthcare system reacted to existing inequities.
Sociology is not my intended field of study, but spending this summer looking at healthcare from a sociological perspective was a valuable change from my STEM classes during the school year. As a pre-med student, I know that understanding basic science is crucial to being a good doctor. However, understanding the factors that shape healthcare inequities between groups of people is equally important, and I would not have gotten such a hands-on learning experience without PURM.