DeAnne K. Hilfinger Messias, the Emily Myrtle Smith Professor of Community Nursing at the College of Nursing, conducts community-engaged, community-based research with a focus on addressing health disparities among women and girls. One of her current projects is a 5-year, multi-million dollar NIH-funded R01 research initiative, the ENLACE project. The goal of the research is to evaluate a community-based promotora-delivered intervention aimed at increasing regular engagement in moderate to vigorous physical activity among Latina women in colonias along the Texas-Mexico border.
A current local project builds on Messias’ long-standing community engagement and outreach through the Women’s Well-Being Initiative of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Funded by a USC ASPIRE II grant, Messias and her team are conducting an analysis of demographic, behavioral, and motivational characteristics of youth in the Lexington County Juvenile Arbitration program, including the 145 girls who have participated in WWBI-sponsored Arts-Based Community Intervention. The multiple data sources include existing Lexington County JA databases, process evaluations from participants, and the artwork produced by the girls enrolled in the Juvenile Arbitration Program. Messias described this multi-level and multi-method analysis process as “involving comparing data on girls who successfully completed the WWBI workshops with a random sample of youth enrolled in the Juvenile Arbitration Program who participated in other types of sanctions in the same time frame. Our assessment also includes analysis of other types of data, ranging from participants’ answers to open-ended questions on program evaluations and the content of participants’ creative works—poems, narratives, video productions, and graphic designs.” A secondary aim of the study is to assess the perspectives of educators, youth workers, law-enforcement personnel, and parents and their receptivity to implementing school or community-based ABEI programs for at-risk youth in South Carolina. The end goal of this research is to develop a replicable, evidence-based model focused on primary and secondary prevention among at-risk youth, both male and female, in South Carolina.