Outlook: A Quarterly Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
Winter 2009 Return to Outlook Main page >>

From the Child and Family Health SIG

Family Ties: Focusing on Life Style in Children and Families

Willa Marlene Doswell, RN, PhD, FAAN

family hikingThe Context. Our society faces enormous challenges in our economy, our future and our health. Although many pharmacological and behavioral intervention advances have been made by researchers across the country, some 40 years or more adherence to therapy, life style reform, and useful behavioral interventions to promote health we still face the same problems found in Biblical times among the Pharaohs as their remains show: chronic diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, stroke, and obesity. Despite numerous studies examining black and white differences across a variety of health variables, those differences still remain. Our Child and Family Health SIG remains focused on many critical barriers to health: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, vaccines, asthma, nutrition, exercise and violence.

Our Current Challenge. How can we get the successful research findings translated into policy and programs that can be disseminated to communities all over our country? How can we increase study participation among Americans of color? How can our publications and research teams be more inclusive in selecting, publishing and disseminating research by researchers of color? We need to be more inclusive in conducting research where the theoretical framework is inclusive of the contextual, cultural and spiritual viewpoints and life styles of people of color, often developed by researchers of color who have a more intimate contact with those viewpoints.

Beginning Solutions. Our SIG researchers are working on several initiatives that may move us forward past these challenges. A sampling of that research is presented here. Dr. Kirsten Davison is developing a scale of African American parental support for children's physical activity. Dr. Deborah Wiebe is examining exercise and overweight children's cognition. Dr. Bret Hoyer is conducting a longitudinal study on diabetes self-management independence behaviors and parent-child conflict. Dr. Helena Laroche is looking at changes in adult eating behavior patterns once they become parents, and another study looking at an intervention to improve eating patterns at children's school sporting events concession stands. Dr. Kitzman-Ulrich is developing family-based weight loss programs for overweight adolescents in underserved populations. Dr. Guadalupe Ayala is conducting family intervention research to promote healthy eating. Dr. Willa Doswell is examining the relationship between Statin use and quality of life and parental support and adherence in obese type 2 adolescents, and contextual and structural factors in unintended pregnancy in African American young adult females. The presentations at the SBM Annual Meetings & Scientific Sessions over the past 2 years also demonstrate the focus on promoting healthy life styles in America.

Call to Action. Given current challenges to health across the lifespan of many Americans, it is important to be inclusive in the study populations we are researching. The following represent selective calls to action among Child and Family Health SIG members. Can we develop or continue to develop research in which Native Americans and Asian Americans are as well represented in the focus on unhealthy life styles as African Americans and Latinas are? Can we develop or adopt theoretical frameworks undergirding our studies that reflect new paradigms that reflect cultural and structural outlooks of these underrepresented and underserved groups? Can we continue to develop life style change interventions that preadolescents, adolescents, parents and other adults will find practical to implement in the context of their social position, income status and cultural/structural environments? These suggestions represent some reflections on our call to action.