Dr. Vida Henderson, PhD candidate in Community Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, received a 1-year award of $58,000 from the National Institute of Aging in order to explore the impact of psychological well-being (PWB) on utilization of well-woman visits and preventive care such as immunizations and cancer, blood pressure and diabetes screenings.
[Photo: Dr. Vida Henderson]
Midlife adults who access preventive services are more likely to maintain health and independence in old age. However, preventive care is underutilized in the United States, which results in increased morbidity, lost lives, and inefficient use of health care expenditures. According to Dr. Henderson’s research, fewer than 1 in 3 midlife women are up to date on select preventive services recommended for their age and gender.
While there have been some studies that look at the relation between certain aspects of PWB and preventive care usage, Dr. Henderson is taking it one step further by studying all six dimensions of PWB, including self-acceptance, personal growth and positive relationships. “I really have an interest in studying disparities and inequities from a strengths-based paradigm, and how somebody’s psychological well-being contributes to these issues,” Dr. Henderson said.
This mixed-methods study will focus on midlife African American women, who are particularly at risk for negative health outcomes that might be mitigated through adherent and increased preventive care use. “Even though African American women are getting tested for cervical or breast cancer, for example, at about the same rate as white women, African American women are getting diagnosed later and have higher rates of mortality,” explained Dr. Henderson. Therefore, data from this study will be used to develop an intervention aimed at increasing usage of timely preventive services in order to help reduce death rates from cancer and other chronic conditions, as well as positively impact overall quality of health for African American women.