Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Investigating Minority Exclusion

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Investigating Minority Exclusion

Article excerpt


As a medical sociologist, Dr. Shawna V. Hudson is like a detective seeking clues to how the health care system functions for people of different ethnic groups.

She became interested in health care inequities as a Rutgers University doctoral student assisting a sociologist and a psychologist who were studying health issues among elderly African-Americans in the New Brunswick, N.J., area.

"I was really starting out with a focus on disparities--who has access, who doesn't and how do we make sure we equalize the playing field--and trying to figure that out from a social approach," she says. "As opposed to looking at it in terms of what do the big numbers say, what is going on at the local level? Why aren't people getting access?"

Today, Hudson is director of community research for the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and an associate professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She is also an adjunct associate member of the Division of Population Science at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

While most research at the cancer center deals with basic science or clinical work focused on drug therapies, Hudson says her work is more like social science or market research. She uses tools such as surveys of health providers, interviews with patients and focus groups with the public to find better ways to get people into treatment.

"Our research is really about how do you now get the products out to people in a way that they can use them in their real-world setting," she says.

After finishing her doctoral studies, Hudson began investigating the reasons for the lack of minorities in clinical research trials.

"One of the things that was really important to us was trying to figure out if your doctor actually talked to you about the opportunities (to participate)," she says. …

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