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Partnerships for Native Health Washington State University


2018 Native-CHART Annual Meeting

On November 8th and 9th, Partnerships for Native Health hosted the third annual meeting for Native-Controlling Hypertension and Risk Through Technology (Native-CHART) in Seattle, Washington. Some highlights from the gathering include the following:

  • Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, Professor and Chair of the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, presented his research on race, discrimination, and blood pressure.
  • Jason Umans provided training and guidance on the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association Hypertension Guidelines.

Attendees also received updates on Native-CHART’s three current projects:

  • Our partners at Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska, discussed their progress with Blood-Pressure-Improving Control among Alaska Native People (BP-ICAN).
  • Washington State University researchers presented an update on Engaging Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders and Activating Communities to Take Steps (ENACTS).
  • Our partners from the Chickasaw Nation and the University of Oklahoma updated attendees on the Chickasaw Healthy Eating Environments Research Study (CHEERS).

Native-CHART Webinar Series: The Effects of Racism on Hypertension in Native Hawaiians

Join us on October 1st at 12pm PST for the second webinar in our Native-CHART Webinar Series. 

This presentation will provide a brief sociohistorical overview of Native Hawaiians and detail their social and cultural determinants of health. Dr. Kaholokula will review several empirical studies that elucidate the adverse effects of racism on hypertension risk and other related conditions, including psychophysiological processes.

He will discuss the pathways by which racism leads to the development of chronic diseases among Native Hawaiians and present preliminary findings on an intervention that is culturally grounded in hula, the traditional dance of Hawai’i, to improve hypertension management.

Dr. Kaholokula’s presentation will illustrate the importance of culturally grounded interventions for improving clinical and sociocultural outcomes among Indigenous peoples.

To register for this webinar, click here

Community Outreach Summer 2018

This summer, we expanded our community outreach efforts by attending national as well as regional pow wows. We were honored to participate in the Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; the Seafair Powwow in Seattle, Washington; and the Gathering at the Falls Powwow in Spokane, Washington.

Across these events, we administered more than 400 needs assessments to find out which health topics matter most to our communities.

We look forward to further broadening our reach and learning more about American Indian and Alaska Native communities across the country.

Savannah Smith Nominated for Local Impact Award

We want to send a hearty congratulations to Savannah Smith at the University of Colorado Denver’s Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health! Savannah’ was nominated for a Local Impact Award at the Annual Heroes in Health Awards Gala sponsored by the National Indian Health Board on September 19 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Savannah was nominated for her exceptional work in coordinating the 2018 run for the Stronghold Fun Run and Hypertension Symposium held this past June in Denver, Colorado. Savannah’s work supported several wonderful speakers, encouraged fitness and fun for over 150 community members, gathered 70 assessments, and raised over $2500 for the event’s nonprofit partner, the Stronghold Society.

Savannah is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and has always been interested in working with Native communities. Her commitment to public health was inspired by an introductory course in this field during her undergraduate studies at Mills College in California. After finishing her studies, she moved back home to Colorado and began volunteering with the Diabetes and Wellness program at Denver Indian Health and Family Services. She then accepted a job with the University of Colorado’s Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, where she has worked for the past two years. So far in her career, Savannah has encountered a critical need for Native researchers, clinicians, and health promoters. As she says,

“We need more researchers to really connect with and have experience working with Native communities so that the relationships, the research, and the health outcomes are better aligned with those communities.”

We are very proud of Savannah, and we look forward to seeing more of her amazing work with our Native communities!

Natives Care

Recent evidence confirms that Alzheimer’s disease is a major health concern for American Indian and Alaska Native communities. A 2014 report by the US Census Bureau projects that the proportion of Native people aged 65 and older will more than double in the next 3 decades, from 9.2% of the overall Native population to 22.9%. Compared to the US general population, American Indian and Alaska Native elders are at greater risk of numerous acute and chronic health conditions. They also suffer more physical and mental health comorbidities and have limited access to timely healthcare. Therefore, emerging needs of the aging Native population must be identified, and improvements must be made in dementia screening and diagnosis. Partnerships for Native Health is addressing these population health disparities by expanding outreach, research recruitment, and educational activities on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

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Reimagining Graduate Study in the Humanities

April 24, 2018 – Washington State University (WSU), which houses Partnerships for Native Health, was recently awarded a small grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support an initiative entitled “Reimagining the 21st Century Land Grant PhD.” This interdisciplinary project will convene a group of faculty, staff, and graduate students at WSU, who will consider how graduate education in the humanities can better support the university’s mission of improving access to resources, inclusion of population groups, and democratic engagement. Members of Partnership for Native Health will be part of the group.

Other participants include Ryan Booth, a graduate student in history and an enrolled member of the Upper Skagit Tribe. “Innovation is the key to human experience,” Mr. Booth said, “and I’m excited to participate in this creative process.” For more information on the new initiative, see this article in the WSU Insider.

Research Roundup

Partnerships for Native Health’s Native Center for Alcohol Research and Education (NCARE) and Dr. Ka’imi Sinclair’s “Strong Men, Strong Communities” Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Change Program were featured in a recent Research Roundup. Check out the article here!

Reducing the Risk of Stroke in American Indians

American Indians are more likely to suffer a stroke than members of any other racial or ethnic group in the US. They also tend to have strokes earlier in life than non-Hispanic Whites. In fact, American Indians younger than 65 are three times more likely to die of stroke than Whites of similar age. Given these statistics, an ongoing study by researchers with Partnerships for Native Health seeks to define the risk factors for stroke in American Indians.

So far, this research has resulted in two scientific publications in Neuroepidemiology. Both are led by Dr. Astrid Suchy-Dicey, an Assistant Research Professor at Washington State University. More publications will follow in the near future. Once all analyses are complete, the next step will be to design interventions that can reduce or eliminate disparities in stroke for Native people.
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Fighting Obesity with Breast Milk

Anna Zamora-Kapoor, PhD, a researcher with Partnerships for Native Health, recently reported a link between breastfeeding and body weight later in life among Native people. In an article published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, she demonstrated that longer periods of breastfeeding in infancy are associated with lower body mass index (BMI) among American Indian and Alaska Native adolescents and young adults.

“The more breastfeeding, the better,” says Dr. Zamora-Kapoor. “Babies who breastfeed longer are more likely to avoid excess weight gain in adolescence and beyond. This is important for Native families, because Native youth have the highest rates of obesity among young people of all races. Obesity is associated with many health problems that are prevalent in Native communities, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
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