Population Research

Gulf Coast Health Alliance: health Risks related to the Macondo Spill (GC-HARMS)

(PI: S. Petronella Croisant)The “Gulf Coast Health Alliance: health Risks related to the Macondo Spill (GC-HARMS)” consortium involves the University of Texas Medical Branch, the University of Pennsylvania, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Louisiana State University, and Gulf Coast communities impacted by the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster. The coalition of community partners are represented by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (Baton Rouge, LA), the Center for Environmental and Economic Justice (Biloxi, MS), the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese-American Fisherfolk and Families (Gulfport, MS), the United Houma Nation (Houma, LA), Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (Thibodeaux, LA), and the Alabama Fisheries Cooperative (Coden, AL). The mission of the GC-HARMS consortium is to explore the health impacts and community resiliency related to the DWH disaster by fostering collaborative interactions amongst multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional basic and clinical investigators—buttressed by active participation of various community partners—to pursue both fundamental and translational research pertinent to the effects of the oil spill on human health. The overall theme of the GC-HARMS consortium is to understand and communicate the human health risks of exposure to potentially hazardous food-borne petrogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH). Our goals developed in collaboration with our community partners are to, 1) assess PAH contamination of Gulf seafood consumed by and sold by the subsistence fishing communities, 2) determine the toxicity of petrogenic PAH, 3) evaluate exposure and health outcomes in the human population, and 4) translate and disseminate findings to our community stakeholders for development of appropriate outreach and education activities.

Longitudinal Study of Older Adults in Mexico (PI: R. Wong)

The MHAS (Mexican Health and Aging Study) is a study of the health of older adults in Mexico using a wide socioeconomic perspective. It includes a longitudinal survey of a national sample of individuals born in 1951 or earlier in Mexico (n=15,000), to study a large number of aspects of older adults’ well being such as physical and mental health, disability, cognition, health behaviors, health expenditures, job history, U.S. migration history, income, insurance, pensions, assets, the built environment, intergenerational transfers, and family and social networks. The study is funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. The baseline survey was conducted in 2001 with re-interviews to the same persons in 2003, and the study has recently received funding to re-interview persons in 2012 and 2014. The study includes an important component of dissemination and data sharing, to foster research on the health of older adults in Mexico with socio-economic and cross-national approaches. The principal investigator is Dr. Rebeca Wong, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and Senior Fellow of the Sealy Center on Aging. Collaborators include researchers from UTMB, the University of Wisconsin and University of Pennsylvania; and from Mexico, the INEGI (Statistical Bureau of Mexico), the InGER (National Institute of Geriatrics), and the INSP (National Institute of Public Health).

A Longitudinal Study of Elderly Mexican American Health

(PI: K. Markides)The Hispanic EPESE (Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly) is the largest epidemiologic study of the health of Mexican American elderly. The principal investigator of the study is Dr. Kyriakos Markides, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas are conducting the project in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. The National Institute on Aging is funding this study. The study began in the early 1990’s and was recently refunded through 2015. It is the primary source of information on the health of older Mexicans using representative samples from the Southwestern United States.

Late Effects of Radiation in Older Gynecologic Cancer Survivors

(PI: J. Freeman)This study is using gynecologic cancers as a model system for investigating late effects of radiation using the SEER Medicare Database. The overall objectives are to 1) construct and evaluate claims based algorithms for defining late effects of radiation related to bowel and bladder toxicities, 2) estimate the risks of these effects among older cancer survivors diagnosed from 1986-2002 and 3) examine variations in the risk by patient, physician and facility characteristics, Study findings have important implications for two groups of older adults with personal histories of cancer. For newly diagnosed patients, our risk estimates over the most recent follow-up period (2000-2005) are helpful for making decisions about current treatment options. Information over the entire study period can also be used to develop individual “Survivorship Plans” - tailored to the survivor’s personal characteristics and when she was treated - with recommended follow-up care. Such plans are critical for the effective surveillance of cancer survivors by primary care physicians, who provide much of the long term follow-up care for patients with these adverse effects. The plans can also remind and encourage survivors to report symptoms related to potential toxicities.

Perceived Risk and Compliance with Mandatory Evacuation Order

(PI: S. Weller)This project explores perceived risk among people who were deemed by civil defense authorities to be at major risk of serious bodily harm.  A mandatory evacuation order was issued for Galveston Island and surrounding low-lying areas in September 2008, as a force 2 to 3 hurricane approached the Gulf Coast.  When the storm hit the island, it was estimated that approximately 40% of the population had not heeded the mandatory evacuation.  The storm had an accompanied surge more typical of a force 4 to 5 storm and inundated the island with approximately 13 feet of tidal surge.  To understand how people interpret and chose to comply or not comply with a mandatory order, this study uses in-depth, open-ended interviews to elicit reasons, motives, and beliefs about what a “mandatory” evacuation means, why they would or would not comply, what they might do next time and why, and what they would like others to know who might be given a mandatory order in the future.  Subjects are paired "neighbors:" one who did and one who did not evacuate.  We hypothesize that there may be differences in understanding of risk between those who did and did not evacuate and also between those who give the orders and those who do and do not respond to orders. Our ultimate goal is to understand if there are important differences in the understanding of risk between those who issue mandatory evacuation orders and the public who is expected to respond to them.  While Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard areas carry summertime risk of a natural disaster due to a hurricane, the entire US carries some degree of risk due to a possible terrorist, specifically a bioterrorist attack.  Population response (and non-response) to mandatory evacuation rules raises a question about population compliance with any mandatory order.

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