The candidate, Dr. Soohyun Nam, is an assistant professor and nationally certified adult nurse practitioner who has an excellent foundation in patient self-management, health disparities, and community-based research for adults of diverse race/ethnicity with chronic diseases. The long-term goals of this application include the following: (a) to improve outcomes for people with an obesity-related condition, such as type 2 diabetes by developing, implementing, testing, and evaluating self-management and behavioral change interventions for adults of diverse race/ethnicity;(b) to develop effective social network interventions targeting obesity and type 2 diabetes;and, (c) to disseminate sustainable social network interventions to high-risk adults of diverse race/ethnicity and translate in the community. Given the high prevalence of obesity among Black women and the many challenges in improving obesity-risk behaviors in the current social environment, developing effective obesity interventions should be a top public health priority and needs to be informed by the social networks which influence the individuals'daily lifestyle. The training goals of this proposal are to: (1) develop expertise in social network theory, measurement and social network study design and recruitment of hard-to-reach at risk population (Dr. Carl Latkin);(2) develop skills in social network analysis (Dr. Trace Kershaw);(3) increase understanding of physical activity, diet and sleep as obesity-risk behaviors among Black women (Drs. Robin Whittemore and Nancy Redeker);and (4) gain knowledge and experience in advanced qualitative analysis and mixed methods (Drs. Holly Kennedy and Robin Whittemore). The research proposal includes three specific aims relating directly to the training goals: (1) to examine the relationships among characteristics of social networks, obesity-risk behaviors (physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, sleep deprivation), and obesity (BMI, body fat, waist/hip circumferences) among young or middle-aged Black women (BMI:15-42 kg/m2);(2) to examine the relationships between obesity-risk behaviors of Black women and their network members'obesity- risk behaviors, accounting for sociodemographic, clinical, psychosocial, and environmental factors;and (3) to explore Black women's perceptions of how social networks influence their obesity-risk behaviors, the communication channels of their social networks, and how social networks could be utilized to improve obesity- risk behaviors. This proposal builds on the candidate's previous work on self-management and lifestyle change research for adults of diverse race/ethnicity with type 2 diabetes, but adds more advanced statistical skills and knowledge of social network research methodologies in the context of obesity-risk behaviors, and an introduction to advanced qualitative and mixed methods research. The research and training plan, the team of mentors who have expertise in social network research, health behavior change interventions, and working with the Black population as well as the opportunity to work with community leaders will provide Dr. Soohyun Nam with focused, interdisciplinary expertise and maximize her capacity as an independent investigator.
With the overwhelming prevalence of obesity among Black women, obesity is an increasingly important public health problem. The proposed study investigating determinants of social network factors influencing obesity- risk behaviors among Black women supports NIH's mission to reduce health disparities by investigating the interplay of behavioral, biological, and environmental determinants of health for high-risk populations. This project will provide necessary knowledge and develop effective lifestyle interventions for obesity and new insights regarding patient's self-management of obesity-related chronic diseases, which will ultimately reduce the burden of obesity and obesity-related morbidity and mortality, and reduce health disparities.