My Research Philosophy

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I have completed my series on models for health education.  I want to focus more on something a bit more personal.  The big reason I started this blog is to get my research philosophy out there.   One of the things I want to do is to do more community-based diverse population research.  The primary topic is to see if the emergency preparedness and response messages are working their way to the hardest to reach people.

How does one know that the messaging is reaching them?  In many cases I don’t think we know.  I think what we do know about our communities’ stops at learning what languages are spoken in the areas that are covered.  What I mean by that is I think many times we check for languages spoken. Then translate fact sheet.  Post said fact sheet on the website.  Done.  The problem with that is this: was a translated fact sheet the best way to reach the population?  It may be, or it may not.  Does who you are trying to reach have internet access?  If they do, are they literate?  If they are, does the fact sheet translation say what you want it to?  I’ve been through it myself.  I remember handing a professionally translated fact sheet to a leader of a community only to find out it was completely wrong.

No one wants to be the butt of a joke that an entire community gets but you.  I say the best way to do right by a community is ask them.  You may find out a translated fact sheet is a waste of money.  Maybe going through churches is a better route.  You don’t know unless you ask.  My research goal is to bridge the gap between communicators and health educators and their communities.  Research is not easy to do and is time consuming.  I can understand why it hasn’t been done.

One of the big reasons I want to do this research is because it becomes more than about what you want to give the community.  During my research with the Iraqi community in Michigan, I met some wonderful people.  My eyes were opened to a group which is surprisingly not well connected to preparedness.  You would think with Michigan having one of the largest populations of Arab-Americans in the US we would have a better understanding.  Go outside of the Detroit area and the understanding is lower.

Prior research has been done with the migrant worker community by Dr. Elaine Vaughan at the University of California at Irvine (some examples of her work: here, here, and here).  However, there aren’t too many others that have taken up the charge and are working within the Arab-American communities.  I want to do more than point out what needs to be done.  I want to implement solutions.  It’s an ambitious goal, but I believe that it’s something I can accomplish.

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