The University of Texas at Austin Latino Research Initiative

Deborah Parra-Medina


Ph.D., University of California, San Diego/San Diego State University

Professor
Deborah Parra-Medina

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Biography


Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina is the inaugural director of the Latino Research Initiative. She holds an appointment as Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Professor Parra-Medina has extensive expertise in developing culturally competent public health, chronic disease, and healthy lifestyle interventions with underserved communities, including women, Latinos, financially disadvantaged, and immigrant populations. She uses a mixed-methods, community-based participatory approach, often designing and implementing interventions that utilize the promotora model and involve multimedia, text messaging, and other technological communications.

Professor Parra-Medina comes to Austin from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio’s Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR), where she was a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics from 2008 to 2016. From 1998 to 2008, she served on the faculty of the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.

In 2016, Professor Parra-Medina was named a Fellow by the American Academy of Health Behavior, a national group of researchers who apply study results to improve public health. She has served as Co-Director of the South Texas Area Health Education Centers Program and as a member of the Cancer Prevention and Population Science research program at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She serves on the editorial board of several scholarly journals and has been recognized for her work in public health and health disparities research by the American Public Health Association, receiving the Mayhew Derryberry Award in 2013.

Professor Parra-Medina received her Ph.D. in public health epidemiology from the University of California, San Diego/San Diego State University joint doctoral program and her master’s in public health in health promotion and education from San Diego State University. She is a native of San Diego.

Research Interests:
Community-based health promotion, underserved communities, participatory research methods, Latino health disparities, and chronic disease prevention.

Current Research: 

Courses


MAS 374 • Latina Sexuality And Health

40395 • Spring 2019
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM CMA 5.190
(also listed as WGS 340)

DESCRIPTION
This course provides an overview of Latinas’ health issues presented in the context of a woman’s life, beginning in childhood and moving through adolescence, reproductive years, and aging. The approach to Latinas' health is broad, taking into account economic, social, and human rights factors and particularly the importance of women’s capacities to have good health and manage their lives in the face of societal pressures and obstacles. Particular attention will be given to critical issues of Latinas' health such as: poverty; unequal access to education, food, and health care; caregiving; and violence. Such issues as maternal mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, teen-pregnancy, body image, gender-based violence, the effects of traditional practices and the effective solutions being forged to combat them. Central to the course materials and discussions will be consideration of how race, ethnicity, class, culture, and gender shape Latinas’ health outcomes. The course will provide a mixture of lecture, media viewing, in-class critical thinking assignments, and out-of-class readings. The class will be interactive. After a general overview the first week, each week will be devoted to a particular phase of a Latinas' life and/or a health issue related to that phase, with one session being introductory (occasionally involving guest resource people) and the other being primarily discussion based, with students leading parts of the discussions. A couple of texts will be required and a Course Reader (CR) will be available on the web (in Canvas). Additional materials may be posted on the class website or handed out in class.

READINGS (selected)

  • Connell R. Gender, “Health and Theory: conceptualizing the issue, in local and world perspective.” Soc Sci Med 2012;74(11):1675–83.
  • Davidson P, McGrath S, Meleis A, et al. “The health of women and girls determines the health and wellbeing of our modern world: A white paper from the International Council on Women’s Health Issues.” Health Care Women International 2012;32(August):870–886
  • Ann Zuvekas, Barbara L. Wells, Bonnie Lefkowitz. “Mexican American Infant Mortality Rate: Implications for Public Policy.” Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 2000;11(2) pp. 231-24
  • Velia Leybas-Amedia, Thomas Nuno, Francisco Garcia. “Effect of acculturation and income on Hispanic women's health.” Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 2005;16(4) pp. 128-141.

MAS 392 • Latinx Health Disparities

35734 • Spring 2018
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GWB 1.138

This course will introduce students to the concept of health equity and will provide a broad overview of health disparities in the United States with a specific focus on Latinx populations. The course will explore key social determinants of health, including: socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, neighborhood environments, social relationships, and political economy. Mechanisms through which these factors are hypothesized to influence health, such as stress and access to health resources and constraints, will be discussed, as well as the ways in which these mechanisms can operate across the lifecourse. An overarching theme of the course will be how social factors that adversely affect health are inequitably distributed, contributing to marked health disparities. Students will gain a better understanding of research on health disparities and interventions to promote health equity through a combination of readings, lectures, reflection papers, in-class exercises, and research assignments.

Curriculum Vitae


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