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BCHS Doctoral Student Doing Research in Brazil this Summer

Lycia Tramujas Vasconcellos Neumann, a DrPH student in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, was awarded a small grant from the 2015-2016 Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) Graduate Student Field Research Grants for her project "The Role of Community Support for Healthy Aging: A study with low income community dwelling seniors in Brazil". The project consists of an observational cross-sectional qualitative research study for what she will count with the structure and knowledge of the only national organization that supports seniors in all 27 states in the country: Pastoral da Pessoa Idosa (Elderly Person Pastoral). Founded in 2004, the organization is staffed basically by volunteers and offers monthly social visits to seniors, mostly in low income communities. Currently over 17,000 community volunteers follow up about 133,000 seniors in communities all over the country. She will use her learned skills of qualitative methods to explore the perceptions of community volunteers, seniors and experts in aging in the country, utilizing focus groups and key informant interviews. In an attempt to capture some of the social, economic and cultural diversity of Brazil, she will work in cities from two different regions and states: Curitiba, capital of Paraná State (located in the south, the second most developed region) and in Recife, capital of Pernambuco state (located in the northeast, the second least developed region). She knows that disseminating research findings is important. Lycia plans to present the study and its results at events such as LASPP (Latin American Social and Public Policy) and LASA (Latin American Studies Association) Conferences and Dean's Day at Pitt Public Health. She also plans to write an article to be published and to send a brief report in Portuguese to PPI, for their use and dissemination in Brazil. Bringing insight to the value of social support for healthy aging is key and these results will help the development of new policies as well as health promotion programs based on social and peer support. In countries like Brazil, where culture determines that most seniors continue living with their families and in their communities as much as their health conditions allow, this study will be especially significant. 


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