HHV in Action

Senior Thesis Presentations

Students in the HHV minor have the option of doing an interdisciplinary thesis and receiving honors in HHV.  The following seniors from the class of 2020 presented their HHV thesis at the end of the Spring semester. 

Mary Labus 
How Can Narrative Dance Be Therapeutic For People With Parkinson's Disease? 
Dance therapy is often discussed as an alternative therapy for different illnesses and conditions. Therapy is defined as a treatment that helps someone feel better or grow stronger. (Cambridge-English Dictionary) Narrative dance has little to no research on its benefits, physical or mental. Narrative is the telling of a story through some medium, e.g. writing, painting, or talking. This paper focuses on Parkinson’s disease (PD), as dance therapy is starting to be studied in the context of the disease. For PD, the research focuses on the physical benefits that can result from dance therapy. Indeed, much of the literature on PD focuses on the physical symptoms but not on how devastating mentally Parkinson’s can be those diagnosed. There is research about the effects Parkinson’s has on mental health, but dance therapy currently used with PD patients only focuses on the physical benefits. This removes the idea that dance, and in particular narrative dance, can have mental benefits as well. This review combines the mental and physical benefits of narrative dance therapy and addresses how these benefits apply specifically to PD. Included are accounts of fictional patients taking part in a program that exemplifies a possible intervention using narrative dance as a therapy in addition to the drug regimen.

Corinne Querrey 
The Importance of and Methods for Effectively Addressing Spirituality in Healthcare
This thesis will review the relevant literature as well as use preliminary data collected in accordance with the University of Arizona IRB standards, to explore the value of integrating spirituality in medicine and how to do so effectively. The doctors in this study were surveyed on the importance of addressing patient spirituality, and interviews were conducted to gather additional perspectives. It was hypothesized that physicians at Alvernon Family Medicine Clinic would be willing to discuss spirituality with their patients. It was concluded that the majority of physicians are open to conducting spiritual assessments if they are provided training on how to do so.

Kelsey Compton  
Needle Exchange Sites: An Analysis of Opinion and Law in Arizona
This project aims to discuss the history of needle exchange programs in the United States, as well as to document and understand knowledge, awareness, and perceptions of the legality and success of needle exchange programs in Arizona. A survey was distributed between January and February 2020 to students of various fields of study attending the University of Arizona. This survey asked questions regarding students’ knowledge, understanding, and opinions of needle exchange programs, as well as knowledge and perceptions of their legality and effects. Several factors including age and field of study were shown to influence knowledge and support of the programs. Overall, respondents had positive attitudes of needle exchange programs but had fewer positive responses when asked to imagine the programs operating near their property. The results showed a lack of awareness and support of the legal status of NEPs in Arizona despite an understanding of the positive effects of the programs.


Erin Radeztsky
On Medical Student Well-Being: The Influence of Medical Education 
Medical students and physicians consistently suffer from elevated levels of depression, suicide, and burnout. Prior research shows that medical students experience a significant increase in rates of stress and depression as they continue their medical education. In addition, medical students report that they do not seek treatment for their mental health concerns or are afraid to admit that they are struggling. This thesis examines this phenomenon by addressing how medical education institutions may influence the well-being of future healthcare professionals. An overview of literature containing factors leading to depression and suicide in medical students is discussed and current interventions are presented and evaluated. Personal narrative is used to provide context to the experiences of depression and anxiety, and a survey for medical students is created to obtain more information about how medical students experience stress in medical school. Addressing medical student well-being must be collective effort from past, future, and current students, faculty, and professionals. By building cohesive and supportive learning environments through institutional and curricular changes, medical schools can help to equip their students with the tools to address their own needs so that they may effectively care for others.

Victoria Huynh
Creating an Effective Health Promotion / Disease Prevention Intervention Approach for At-Risk Vietnamese Americans for Liver Cancer 
This thesis consists of a narrative literature review, followed by a project proposal, regarding the topic of liver cancer prevention behavior in the Vietnamese American (VA) population. Despite past interventions, the VA population continues to experience health disparities in liver cancer such that their incidence and mortality rates are significantly greater than those found in non-Hispanic Whites, as well as any other Asian ethnicities. A contribution of this paper is to aid in the disaggregation of Asian American health data, since within the past few decades, there has been a constant underrepresentation of certain ethnic groups. This research recognizes the heterogeneity of the Asian American population and hopes to reduce the health disparities faced by the local VA community. The literature review was chosen to identify and organize data trends related to hepatitis screening/vaccination, address areas needing further research, and inform the project proposal for a community- and clinic-based program to improve screening rates in VA. Methods of this review consisted of utilizing various online databases, and using a systematic approach in article selection. It is important to note that the following project proposal is entirely hypothetical in its details of research methodology and community partner collaboration, but nonetheless contains information to inform future development of VA cancer screening interventions.

Allie Valenzuela
Creating an Effective Health Promotion / Disease Prevention Intervention Approach for At-Risk Vietnamese Americans for Liver Cancer 
Refugees in the United States present a unique set of circumstances for their medical providers. This paper will overview the complex process for admission to the United States and the unresolved trauma that many refugees experience. It will discuss the barriers to achieving adequate healthcare experiences for refugees: language, health literacy, transportation, gender issues, provider cultural competency, and communication about trauma. These barriers confound each other and create a multidimensional challenge for refugee patients in the U.S. For this reason, this paper also explores current recommendations for providers. Finally, I will argue that employing the ideas in “The Danger of a Single Story” and Narrative Medicine will have positive impacts on the way refugee patients experience U.S. healthcare.


Caleb Owens 
Understanding the Effects of Caregiver Burden in Informal Settings: Contextualizing the State of Care in Southern Arizona
This thesis addresses the physiological and psychological effects of caregiving. It provides a detailed analysis of the current understanding of these effects and the phenomena known as caregiver burden. Caregiving, while rewarding, can have a variety of negative impacts on the physical and mental health of the caregiver if it is not controlled. Using this knowledge, the researcher explores the state of caregivers in Southern Arizona. By using data collected from surveys and well as personal interviews from caregivers, the author investigates the health and experiences of caregivers in this region.

Alexis Chavez and Jess Morehouse 
Addressing Child Behavioral Issues and Family Accommodation that Arise in PANS/PANDAS
To improve child behavioral issues that stem from PANS, the UA Children’s Postinfectious Autoimmune Encephalopathy Center Clinic created an intervention that will implement a bio-behavioral approach to address family accommodations and behaviors of the child. The intervention is directed towards both the child and their parents. Families will be followed for two years with monthly visits, in which treatment includes parent management training, behavioral functional analysis, direct interventions, therapies, home visits, and constant contact with the parents. In conjunction with the behavioral intervention, there will be medical treatment provided, should the child require it. There is strong evidence which supports the fact that providing training for parents with disciplining their children can help with child attachment disorders and oppositional compliant behavior from the child. Applying a behavioral approach of understanding parent-child interaction in different environments and a medical continuum of care will help tease apart appropriate vs. non-appropriate behavior that are and are not associated with PANS and the flares that occur from this disorder. This intensive intervention will allow physicians to tease out contingencies from the behavioral issues and ultimately provide adequate treatment and implement behavior plans to help alleviate family burdens and understand what challenging behaviors arise from PANS.

Cassie Stewart 
Healthcare Experiences for People with Cerebral Palsy

This research will address how health outcomes can improve for adults with cerebral palsy by evaluating their experiences in the healthcare setting. The focus will be on patient provider interaction, and specifically how provider attitudes and knowledge of disability affect care. Important factors to consider are conceptualizations of disability (i.e., social and medical models of disability) and how stigma shapes perception and treatment. Any intervention to improve healthcare experiences for people with cerebral palsy should address disability stigma and the complex physical and cognitive effects unique to cerebral palsy. 


Webinar “Health and Human Values in the Time of COVID-19” and Yearbook by the Cohort of 2023 

At the end of Spring 2020, students in the core course for HHV- Methods in Health and Human Values produced a webinar on the social and cultural dimensions of COVID-19. Giovani Hernandez - de la Pena, Mac McGraw, and Esteban Urena produced a “yearbook” featuring individual students and their presentations.


Senior Theses

List of theses, authors, advisers, and departments. 

De Castro, Francis  2018 

BRAITBERG (Anthropology) How the institutional Structure of the Veterans Affairs Health System Alters Clinical Approaches to Treatment 


Karcher, Christiana  2018 

SELBERG (Honors): Addressing Adverse Attitudes Towards Complementary Therapy for Chronic Pain Management 


Hook, Michelle  2019 

BHATTACHARJEE (Pharmacy): The Effects Of Polypharmacy On Medication Non-Adherence For Medicare Part D Beneficiaries With A Diagnosis Of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus 


Jordan, Gianna  2019 

DEL CASINO (Geography): The Effect Of Long Term Housing On The High Rates Of Morbidity And Mortality In Women Experiencing Homelessness 


Lowe, Rachel  2019 

OBERMAN (Religious Studies): Advantages Of Mixed-Methods Research In Health Related Studies On The Elderly 


Rabinowitz, Aaron  2019 

BRAITBERG (Anthropology) Integrating The Sociology Of Standards With Community Paramedicine 


Rowlison, Gabrielle  2019 

GLISKY (Psychology) The Benefit Of Intergenerational Interactions On Geriatric Patient Satisfaction And Well-Being 


Ryan, CJ  2019 

LAMOUREAUX (Anthropology): Putting An End To Homelessness Of Pregnant Women: Holistic Interventions For Addressing Birth Outcomes And Maternal Risks