Allen University Researchers Present at International Public Health Conference

Athens Institute for Education and Research

During an international conference in Greece, two Allen University faculty researchers presented preliminary results from their survey on health disparities among college students at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Dr. Kareem Muhammad, dean of the Division of Social Science, Education and Business, and Dr. Steffani Driggins, dean of the Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, presented data which suggest that Allen University students would benefit from an intervention program that would help reduce the risk of being diagnosed with a health disparity that affects African-Americans.

Dr. Steffani Driggins poses next to conference banner.
Dr. Steffani Driggins

The study was presented at the 5th annual International Conference on Public Health, June 24-27 in Athens, Greece. The research is the second of its kind in the United States to survey students attending an HBCU pertaining to the health disparity.

“We want to impact a population of students that are being overlooked right now,” said Dr. Driggins, who noted the only similar study that was conducted at an HBCU was in 2013. Other studies exploring the health disparity among college-aged students focused on those at predominately white colleges and universities, according to Driggins, who is also an associate professor of biology.

The Allen researchers surveyed 65 students who completed a questionnaire that evaluated the knowledge that the students have of the health disparity and included questions about their family history of certain diseases.

While some students indicated a family history of certain diseases, only half knew how they are detected or how they occur. Both researchers said the results suggest that an intervention program at Allen University may help to reduce students’ chances of encountering one or more of the health conditions which disproportionately affect American Americans more than any other demographic in the U.S.

“Too often at institutions like these, we teach students the basics of mathematics and writing and other skills associated with their disciplines. But none is probably more important than health, especially for those in minority communities who are deeply impacted by these illnesses,” said Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Muhammad.

Dr. Kareem Muhammad poses next to the conference banner,
Dr. Kareem Muhammad

Before implementing any public health program on campus, Dr. Muhammad and Dr. Driggins stated that additional studies will be conducted to thoroughly understand the educational needs of students.

Both researchers believe the results from their work will help to improve the health of Allen University students as they become working adults. They, in turn, will become empowered to influence their family and friends to adopt healthy habits that will impact their lives.

University administrators further hope that the research of Drs. Muhammad and Driggins, as well as other studies conducted at Allen University, will increase the level of awareness of scholarly activities occurring at the university.

“Opportunities for faculty and students to present at regional, national and even international conferences and meetings help to expose the quality of discovery and innovation underway at Allen. This better positions the university to pursue funding opportunities that will help to develop and expand our portfolio of research,” said President Dr. Ernest McNealey.