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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UNC Charlotte: Recent PhD Graduate Explores Body Image and Health Among Women with Disabilities

Dr. Erin Vinoski Thomas recently completed her PhD in Public Health Sciences from University of North Carolina at Charlotte Public Health Programs. A manuscript from Dr. Vinoski Thomas’s dissertation research, entitled, “’It’s very valuable to me that I appear capable’: A qualitative study exploring relationships between body functionality and appearance among women with visible physical disabilities” was published in Body Image: An International Journal of Research in June.

The research revealed several notable findings. In contrast to current theory, women in the study expressed that body functionality spans a range of positive and negative body image experiences. Women also indicated that body functionality and appearance are not always distinct concepts, but rather overlap in many ways that uniquely influence their overall body image and health. This finding is particularly important to consider in the context of positive body image intervention development.

“People with disabilities are underrepresented in health research – and body image research is no exception. By centering the perspectives of these women in body image research, we uncover nuances in the ways body image is experienced and understood, and ultimately how body image influences overall health,” says Dr. Vinoski Thomas. She hopes that this work will draw attention to the importance of including people with disabilities in health research and highlight the importance of body image as a public health issue.

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