My work explores cultural explanations for health inequities from an anthropological perspective; that is, I utilize ethnographic data to understand health outcomes. I do so as decades of research have documented that health varies in relation to culture and only by understanding the cultural variables can we begin to provide long-term solutions to health inequities.
Health of Immigrants to Canada (Vitamin D study) (2008-2011)
A growing public health focus on vitamin D and breastfed infants has identified a need to understand vitamin D supplementation behavior among vulnerable populations. This study compares knowledge and practice of infant supplementation among immigrant mothers in Toronto and Hamilton, and refugees in Calgary. We found that some refugee groups in Canada may not be supplementing breastfed infants according to recommendations. Canadian caregivers in general require clear and consistent messaging from health professionals regarding infant supplementation and guidelines for vitamin D supplementation of children over 1 year. (Collaboration with colleagues at McMaster University & University of Toronto)
Health of mothers and children in Western Tanzania (2011)
Recent studies in less-developed countries link household food insecurity to maternal depression. Depression increases adult physical disease risk, and maternal depression may exacerbate infection or poor growth in young children. Among 150 mother-infant dyads in Mwanza, Tanzania, preliminary analyses indicate that food insecurity and maternal depression are compromising their immune systems, which elevates their infectious and chronic disease risk.
(Collaboration with colleagues at U. Alabama, U. Calgary, and the Weill Bugando University College of Health Sciences, Tanzania)