This Week @ Gillings: The Abstract

May 15, 2023

Whether you’re local or global, student or alumni, the Abstract’s weekly news digest will help you stay in the loop with our amazing Gillings School community.


Rozier publishes 80-year history of dental public health education at UNC

Gary Rozier

Dr. Gary Rozier

R. Gary Rozier, DDS, MPH, emeritus professor of health policy and management, is author of a new e-book, First in the Nation, chronicling the first 80 years of graduate dental public health education at UNC-Chapel Hill. The North Carolina Dental Public Health Initiative is built on the shoulders of this 80-year history and includes important work done by Rozier and colleagues.

The book summarizes five critical themes of the program’s impact:

  • Serving as a key resource for training dentists in public health.
  • Providing the science base for improving oral health with new prevention technologies.
  • Advancing public health practice and collaborations with state and federal agencies.
  • Maintaining a robust research program that developed methods for solving population-based problems.
  • Offering a comprehensive teaching program that supported the knowledge base for the MPH program and research methods for PhD students in epidemiology and health services research.

Read more about First in the Nation from UNC Press.

Maternal and child health research on SNAP eligibility and mental health published in JAMA

Dr. Anna Austin

Dr. Anna Austin

Dr. Meghan Shanahan

Dr. Meghan Shanahan

Assistant Professor Anna Austin, PhD, Master of Public Health student Madeline Frank and Associate Professor Meghan Shanahan, PhD, are co-authors on a study recently published in JAMA Network Open titled “Association of State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Eligibility Policies With Adult Mental Health and Suicidality.”

In this study, the researchers aimed to find out whether state adoption of policies that expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility by eliminating the asset test and increasing the income limit is associated with changes in rates of mental health and suicidality outcomes among adults.

They found that state elimination of the asset test only was associated with decreased rates of past-year major depressive episodes and mental illness among adults. State adoption of policies eliminating the asset test and increasing in the income limit was associated with decreased rates of past-year major depressive episodes, mental illness, serious mental illness, suicidal ideation and suicide death among adults.

These results suggest that state adoption of policies that increase the number of households eligible to receive food purchasing assistance through SNAP may contribute to reductions in rates of poor mental health and suicidality among adults at the population level.

Read the full study online.

Montoya co-authors research shedding light on racial disparities in jail

In a study newly published in Criminology and Public Policy, postdoctoral researcher Lina Montoya, PhD, in the Department of Biostatistics at the Gillings School and co-authors examined probation officers’ decision-making in pretrial reports for 149,815 defendants across 81 federal court districts in the U.S.

According to news from the University of California (UC) Berkeley, “these reports contained troves of information about the defendants’ criminal histories, personal finances and social lives, among other things. They each also included a recommendation from the officer — usually upheld by a judge — about whether the defendant should be held in custody or released before trial.

“Black defendants were 34% more likely to be recommended to be held behind bars until their cases were resolved, researchers found. Racial biases on the part of the officers writing the reports contributed to some of the disparities — particularly in cases that involved a lot of discretion, like when the defendants had little or no criminal record.”

Read the full story from UC Berkeley.

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