Friday, December 12, 2014

Guest Post: Men’s Health: A Case for Violence Prevention Programs for African American Youth by Byron Hunter

Byron Hunter PhD Student Department of Health Studies Texas Woman's University
Pictured: Bro. Byron Hunter, MPH, FACHE
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Matt Lauer and Al Roker grew beards in the month of November in solidarity and support of Men’s Health Month. While much of the focus was one the general population of men, special attention for young African American men should be of particular interest as much attention has been placed on the health and wellness of the population in light of recent events is Ferguson, MO. There are profound social issues for some members of the population and there is a great need for social programs for at-risk youth. 

African Americans represent 14% of the U.S. population (44,456,009) yet have the widest gaps in health care compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Individuals experience alarming rates of heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, STDs, and cancer.  Early health education and prevention activities among this population, particularly youth and young adults, is paramount to improve health and outcomes in later life.  Among the population, the health and wellness of young African American men is of particular concern. According to the US Census there are 7.4 million African American males between ages 10-34 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). 

Several Key public health issues among young African American men include HIV/AIDS, lack of health insurance, and violence (Battle, 2002). HIV/AIDS: African Americans continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV infection. In 1999, AIDS was the leading cause of death for African American males between the ages of 25 and 44 years (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999).  Ten years later, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among African Americans (68.9) was 7.9 times as high as the rate in whites (8.7) (Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 2014). Of all of the new HIV infections among African Americans, 51% were among men who have sex with men (MSM) (CDC, 2014).  Lack of health insurance: Nearly 4 out of 10 young African American men lack health insurance (The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2006).  Violence: Among 10 to 24 year olds, homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans; the second leading cause of death for Hispanics; and the third leading cause of death American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

Of the aforementioned health issues violence among young African American men is of
Pictured: Bro. Garland Thompson, MCD
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
prominent concern. Inner city African American youth are at risk for interpersonal violence and aggression. Statistics reveal that homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans age 10 to 24 year olds (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2014). Additionally, among youth and young adults age 15 to 24 years killed by firearms in the US, 60 percent are African American or Hispanic (Teplin, McClelland, Abram, & Mileusnic, 2005). Many young African American men particularly those in urban settings live by the ‘Code of the Street’, in which they exert extra masculinity to intimidate peers to establish credibility (Stewart, Schreck, & Simons, 2006). Problems with violence are worsened by ill relationships between police and young African American men. Reports indicate that the likelihood of police contact (including stops) for African America men in urban settings is higher than in any other ethnic group (Meares, 2008). 

In addition to violence, there is a great need to educate youth and young adults about bullying. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines bullying as any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated (CDC, 2014). Up to 25% of U.S. students are bullied each year and as many as 160,000 students stay home from school on any given day because they are afraid of being bullied (Hardy, 2005). Boys are more likely to be involved in physical or verbal bullying, while girls are more likely to be involved in relational bullying (Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009). African-American adolescents are more likely to be involved in physical, verbal or cyber bullying but less victimization (Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009). Bullying can result in physical injury, social and emotional distress, and even death (CDC, 2014). Victimized youth are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment (CDC, 2014). 

In the U.S. homicide is the leading cause of death for young men age 10 to 24. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the firearm homicide rate among males ages 10 to 24 years was highest for Non-Hispanic Blacks with 48.4 deaths per 100,000 populations (CDC, 2013). In the state of Texas homicide rates have decreased from 16.7 per 100,000 population in 1994 to 6.5 per 100,000 population in 2010, yet for African-Americans males age 10 to 24 homicide continues to be the leading cause of death (30.2 per 100,000 compared to 6.9 per 100,000 population white males and 11.0 per 100,000 population Hispanic males) (CDC, 2013). Homicide rates are perpetuated by social-economic problems and ongoing programs are needed to address these issues to reduce homicides and other crimes. 

The literature suggests that the physical and social environment such as poverty, access to firearms and drugs, urbanization, disadvantaged neighborhoods, poor social support (parents, teachers, classmates, and close friends) and inadequate education and school systems plays a large role in determining and individuals potential for engagement in violence behavior (Reese, Vera, Thompson & Reyes, 2001; Li, Nussbaum, and Richards, 2007; McMahon, Coker & Parnes, 2013). Of these, poverty is of cited as the most significant factor of particular importance considering 20% of individuals living in poverty are under the age of 18 and African-Americans represent 26% of these individuals (Reese, Vera, Thompson and Reyes, 2001). Vowell and Mary (2000) suggest that many inner-city African American youth feel strained by society and are unable to achieve their fullest potential because of competitive disadvantages, economic resources and limited opportunities. As a result, they reject normative structures and may engage in risky behaviors including drugs, alcohol, or violent behavior. 

Reese, Vera, Thompson & Reyes (2001) suggest that most teen experiences are interrelated, for example, experimentation with drugs and alcohol are usually tied together, and therefore, programs should approach violence prevention strategies from a multifactorial viewpoint. The literature further suggests that programs examine emotional support, improve communication skills, coping skills, eliminate gang activity, and that bolster child and parent relationships simultaneously may be possible strategies to manage violence. 

Pictured: Bro. Adam Whitaker, M.Ed.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Violence continues to threaten the health and wellness of African American youth. The literature suggests environmental and social factors play a key role in predicting violent behavior. Members of the target population are often excluded from intervention development and there are significant gaps in participant involvement in strategy and design. It is important to involve individuals in planning interventions and to empower them to take control of their health. Informed violence prevention strategies may be accomplished through implementing techniques such as Community Based Participatory Research (CPBR) or peer education, which encourage discussion and active participant engagement. 


Battle, S. F. (2002). Health Concerns for African American Youth. Journal of Health & Social Policy, 15(2), 35-44. 

Center for Disease Control & Prevention (2014). HIV among youth. Retrieved from: 

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (2014). Youth Violence: facts at a glance. Retrieved from: 

Hardy, D (2005). In the mix: stop bullying take a stand. Public Broadcast Service. Retrieved from: 

Li, S. T., Nussbaum, K. M., & Richards, M. H. (2007). Risk and protective factors for urban African-American youth. American Journal of Community Psychology, 39(1-2), 21-35. 

McMahon, S. D., Coker, C. and Parnes, A. L. (2013). Environmental stressors, social support, and internalizing symptoms among African American youth. Journal of Community Psychology, 41: 615–630. 

Meares, T. (2008). Legitimacy of police among young African-American men. The Marquette Law Review 92, 651. 

Reese, L. R. E., Vera, E. M., Thompson, K., & Reyes, R. (2001). A qualitative investigation of perceptions of violence risk factors in low-income African American children. Journal of clinical child psychology, 30(2), 161-171. 

Stewart, E. A., Schreck, C. J., & Simons, R. L. (2006). “I ain't gonna let no one disrespect me” does the code of the street deduce or increase violent victimization among African American adolescents?, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 43(4), 427-458. 

Teplin, L. A., McClelland, G. M., Abram, K. M., & Mileusnic, D. (2005). Early violent death among delinquent youth: a prospective longitudinal study. Pediatrics, 115(6), 1586-1593. 

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (2006). Young African American Men in the United States: race, ethnicity, & healthcare fact sheet. Retrieved from: 

U.S. Census Bureau (2010). Age groups and sex. Retrieved from: 

Vowell, P. R., & May, D. C. (2000). Another look at classic strain theory: Poverty status, perceived blocked opportunity, and gang membership as predictors of adolescent violent behavior. Sociological Inquiry, 70(1), 42-60. 

Wang, J., Iannotti, R. J., & Nansel, T. R. (2009). School bullying among adolescents in the United States: Physical, verbal, relational, and cyber. Journal of Adolescent Health, 45(4), 368-375. 

Byron Hunter, MPH, FACHE, is a PhD Student in the Department of Health Studies at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX. All correspondence should be sent to Pictured individuals are members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, which is the first Greek-lettered Fraternity for African American. The fraternity’s headquarters is in Baltimore, MD and the organizations aims are ‘Manly Deeds, Scholarship, and Love for all Mankind.’ The organization leads violence prevention and other training programs for inner-city youth and young adults. 

 You might also enjoy:

Men's Health Week 2012

Men's Health Week 2014 - Guest Post by Lauren Fennell

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Guest Post: Holiday Stress by Luis Espinoza

Many of us are counting down the days till Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know I am.  The holiday season is supposed to be a wonderful time where we get to spend time with our family members and friends, but let’s be honest… it can be just as stressful.

Stress can be caused by having to make decision on what gifts to buy, dealing with particular family members or even resisting those holiday cravings.  All these occurrences can lead to a stressful holiday season.  Fortunately, you can stay mindful and happy during the holiday season by mastering the following tips:
1.    Don’t be afraid to partake in some indulgences such as pumpkin pie or that extra sitting of turkey.  The goal is to fill your plate with a large portion of healthy foods so you can still enjoy those not so healthy ones (Krippendorf, 2010).
2.   If you are traveling and are ill please bring extra supplies and medications just in case you experience travel delays (Nurmi, 2011).  As a general rule carry snacks and a blanket on your travels should you experience some type of delay (Steffes & Steffes, n.d.).
3.   Consider online shopping to reduce that stress that comes with last minute impulse buys and reduce the strain to your bank account (Palmer & Cooper, 2013).  Holidays are not about buying extravagant, expensive gifts.
4.   If you are hosting a meal during Thanksgiving or Christmas be prepared to have extra food should someone stop by unexpectedly (Krippendorf, 2010).  Word to the wise, go to the grocery store and buy more food than you will need at least 4 days before.
5.    We all have those family members we could go without seeing, however, don’t let them be the reason you dread the holidays (Nawijn, 2012).
6.   Exercise regularly to reduce holiday stress.  It is a way to let go of the bad and feel better afterwards (Adamson, 2009).  Exercise is vital to everyday health.

I hope you enjoy the holiday season and see the rainbow at the end of the season. It is after all about spending time with your loved ones and giving thanks for everything you have. 


Adamson, E. (2009). 365 ways to reduce stress: Everyday tips to help you relax, rejuvenate, and refresh. Adams Media.
Krippendorf, J. (2010). Holiday makers. Taylor & Francis.

Palmer, S., & Cooper, C. (2013). How to deal with stress (Vol. 24). Kogan Page Publishers.

Nurmi, N. (2011). Coping with coping strategies: How distributed teams and their members deal with the stress of distance, time zones and culture. Stress and Health, 27(2), 123-143.

Nawijn, J. (2012). Leisure travel and happiness: An empirical study into the effect of holiday trips on individuals’ subjective wellbeing. Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS).

Steffes, B. & Steffes, M. (n.d.). Your mission: Get ready! Get set! Go! [Brochure]. Retrieved from

Stress free holidays [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Luis Espinoza is a Sociology doctoral student at Texas Woman's University (TWU) with areas of specialization in Social Stratification/Social Inequality and Health & Illness. His research interests include: Maternal and Child Health, Latino Disparities, Medically Underserved Populations, Health Education/Health Promotion, and Infectious & Chronic Diseases. If you are interested in getting in contact with him please contact him at

You might also enjoy:

Tips for Beating Stress: Stay Mentally Clear and Healthy as the School Year Starts

Liked this post? Be sure to share it! You can also follow us on Facebook

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Guest Post: Get Smart about Antibiotics Week Nov. 17-23rd by Christine Heady

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the health care community and is a serious threat to community health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013). The demand for a quick fix for infections has led to a consumer driven prescribing (Bartlett, Gilbert, & Spellberg, 2013). Health care providers are giving in to patient’s desires rather than prescribing using the available evidence and necessity of the antibiotic. Two million people a year develop antibiotic resistant infections and 23,000 die as a result of the resistant infection (CDC, 2013). Everyone needs to have an awareness of how to prevent antibiotic resistance and the seriousness of the problem. There are several ways everyone can contribute to getting smart about antibiotics.

Bartlett, J. G., Gilbert, D. N., & Spellberg, B. (2013). Seven ways to preserve the miracle of antibiotics. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 56(10), 1445-1450.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013. Retrieved from

Christine Heady MSN, RN, FNP-BC is currently working on a PhD in Health Studies at TWU with a focus on higher education. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from Abilene Christian University in 2001. Christine currently works for Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Colorado City, Texas as a nurse practitioner and primary health care provider for the Wallace and Ware Unit.

 You might also like:

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Flu?

Guest Post: Ways to Treat Psoriasis

Like this post? Be sure to share it! You can also follow us on Facebook!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spotlight - Interview with Justin Gerstenberger, Coordinator of Academic Advising

Justin Gerstenberger

We had the opportunity to sit down virtually with  Justin Gerstenberger at the TWU Pioneer Center for Student Excellence. Justin graciously took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions so we could get to know him a little better as well as talk about some of the services the Center offers.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I recently assumed the role of Coordinator of Academic Advising at TWU after advising for 8 years at TCU, UNT Health Science Center and UT-Arlington. I’m in the process of completing my Doctorate Degree at TCU in Educational Leadership focused on Higher Education. I did my masters at UNT in Education focusing on Higher Education and my Bachelor’s at UT-Arlington in Interdisciplinary Studies.

What do you do as Coordinator for Academic Advising?  

As the Coordinator of Advising I work with the advisors on professional development and working to help create a common advising experience for students and advisors on our campuses.

Can you tell us more about academic coaching?  

Academic Coaching is a program that is available to assist students with test taking, note taking, and study skills as well as help student learn about the different types of learning styles and the resources available to on campus to help them be successful. Sessions are typically about a half hour to an hour and students can meet with their coach up to 6 times a semester.

What types of services does the Center offer for online students?  

Our academic coaching services are offered to students online. Students can indicate that they are an online student and through the use of technology in the Center we can do academic coaching sessions via skype to allow online students the same experiences as on campus students in regards to academic coaching.

As many of our students know, we like to have fun in Health Studies. We have held themed orientations complete with alter egos such as Mo Solo, Hoda Fett, and Dee Dee Wan Kenobi from our Star Wars orientation. We also had a Mission Impossible orientation with passports and top secret missions. Sometimes we even make up code names for each other.  Who would your alter ego be or what would your code name be?  

I would have to say that my code name would be Sterling, which also happens to be my coffee name. I’m a big fan of the show Archer, which is where the name comes from. But, I would be all about a Star Wars themed orientation or alter ego!

What is your favorite quote and why? 

“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant” – Alan Greenspan. This quote sticks out to in our age of technology where we communicate online. It is easy for words and meanings to be misinterpreted through our technology so it is important to be cognizant of the things we say and send online because we never know if the person on the other end is going to interpret it the way that we said it.

Thanks, Justin! We are glad we got a chance to chat with you! 
You might also like:

Spotlight - Interview with Kurt Krause, Coordinator of Experiential Learning at the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence

Spotlight - Interview with Dr. Joshua Adams, Executive Director of the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence 

Guest Post - Turn Your Interview Into an Offer

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guest Post: Family Caregivers Month November 2014 by Laura Valentino

Every November, we recognize some important heroes in our country.  These heroes are family caregivers. Right now, two out of every five adults in America provide care for a loved one (Caregiver Action Network, 2013). This is an increase of 11% since 2010 (Caregiver Action Network, 2013). Millions of Americans provide unpaid care for a loved one, with a savings of $450 billion a year. This is more than either Wal-Mart sales or Medicaid spending (Caregiver Action Network, 2013).

Facts about family caregivers:

  • Family caregivers provide care to loved ones of all ages. Sometimes, caregivers are part of the so-called “sandwich generation” that take care of both a sick or aged parent and a child.

  • Although the majority of caregivers are female, the number of male caregivers is increasing.

  • One million Americans are caring for wounded veteran loved ones suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other wounds and illnesses.

  • It’s serious work! It’s exhausting and time-consuming and caregivers often neglect their own health and interests for the sake of caregiving.  

(Caregiver Action Network, 2013)

What can you do to celebrate family caregivers?

  • If you know a family caregiver, offer to provide respite care, even if only for an hour. Everybody needs a break now and then.

  • Listen to them! Let them communication both the joys and frustrations that family caregiving brings.

  • Thank a family caregiver for their service to their loved one and to the community.

  • Consider joining or starting a volunteer effort to support and/or honor caregivers.

Why should health educators be concerned about caregiver health?

  • The number of family caregivers will continue to increase as people live longer and require more care and the desire to live at home.

  • There is simply not enough capacity for care to be provided by non-family caregivers. There are not enough long-term care facilities nor trained employees for these facilities (Hoban, 2013).

  • Depression and anxiety among family caregivers is a growing concern (Family Caregiver Alliance, 2014).

  • Respite care is under-utilized.

  • Health disparities in caregiver health are under-studied.

It is time to start honoring and supporting our family caregivers! 


Caregiver Action Network. (2013). Family caregivers: Now more than ever. Retrieved from

Family Caregiver Alliance. (2014). Depression and caregiving. Retrieved from

Hoban, S. (2013). LTC outlook: Too many seniors not enough caregivers. Retried from


Laura Valentino is a second year doctoral student. She is the 2014-2015
recipient of the Janice C. Williams Health Education Teaching Fellowship. She currently
teaches HS 4121, Internship Preparation. She is the President-Elect of TSOPHE and
actively involved in APHA, SOPHE, and ASA as well as Pioneer Power Speakers
(Toastmasters International). She is always looking for research collaboration
opportunities. Feel free to email her at

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guest Post: Have an Orange Halloween this Year by Tina Arriazola

Have an Orange Halloween this Year

Trick or Treat!  Yes, it is that time of year when children and adults put on costumes and consume large amounts of sugar-filled candy and treats. I am talking about Halloween people--a holiday in which millions of Americans take part in.  It is this time of year when you can’t go anywhere without seeing a Halloween-themed bowl with, you guessed it, candy.  Even places that promote health, such as doctor offices and your local gym will have a candy bowl ready to feed that Halloween craving of sweet sugary goodness.  No one can seem to resist this celebration of costumes and candy.  So what should you do if you want to participate in this sweet holiday without eating all of that sugar?  Make it an orange Halloween.  Of course I’m talking about the fruit.  Oranges or tangerines are an excellent choice for Halloween. They are orange, round, and look kind of like a miniature pumpkin.  So why not use them to make healthy Halloween treats?

Option 1: Peel some oranges and stick a piece of celery at the top to make a stem.

Option 2: Draw faces on the peel with a black marker.

Option 3: Scoop out filling and carve the peel like you would a pumpkin.  Add cut up oranges or mix with other fruit for a pumpkin fruit bowl

But Oranges Contain Sugar, Right?
Yes, oranges have naturally occurring sugars.  Actually, all fruits contain sugar.  This is what gives it that sweet taste.  Fruits offer so much more nutrition though so don’t discount it due to its sugar content.  Fruits, such as oranges, contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber in addition to natural sugars.  Our bodies actually need naturally occurring sugar to give us energy.  What we don’t need is the type of sugar that is found in candy and other sweet treats.  Candy and sweet treats contain refined sugar.  Refined sugar is completely different then naturally occurring sugar found in fruits.  In fact, consuming too much refined sugar can actually cause some serious health consequences such as cavities, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and obesity. 

So why don’t you make your next Halloween orange?  We would also love to hear your tips for making Halloween healthier. Share them in the comments below!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Nutrition for everyone. Retrieved from
Rosen, K. (2008). The sugar DEBATE. (cover story). Delicious Living, 24(2), 26-31

Tina Arriazola is a graduate student at Texas Woman’s University and is currently pursuing a MS in Health Studies with an emphasis on worksite health promotion.  In 2012, she received a BS in Health Studies with an emphasis on community health.  Her interests are in worksite wellness programs and childhood obesity.  She is also passionate about teaching others how to live a healthy lifestyle.

You might also like: