Nursing, health and hookah: Fall 2012 funding update

From culturally competent education to water pipes, research is booming at FIU. Here are just a few of the projects funded this fall.

Understanding tobacco dependence in water pipe users

Wasim Maziak with a hookahSmoking tobacco through water pipes, also known as hookahs, is growing in popularity, in part due to public perception that the practice is not as harmful or addictive as smoking cigarettes. Dr. Wasim Maziak, chair of the department of epidemiology at the Robert Stempel School of Public Health and Social Work has found that water pipes can be as dangerous and addictive as cigarettes. But while cigarette addiction is understood and many resources and interventions are available, not much is known about those tobacco dependence using water pipes.

Maziak recently received a new grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to advance addiction research and build additional research capacity in the Middle East. The award, which totals $1.5 million over a five-year project term, will complement Maziak’s existing research, which has largely been funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Through this new project, Maziak hopes to study water pipe addiction among Middle Eastern youth, train researchers, boost research on water pipe dependence and treatment, and characterize tobacco dependence in water pipe users so effective interventions can be developed.

Does your physical therapist need a physical therapist?

Physical therapists are no strangers to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Treating these ailments is often part of a physical therapist’s job. However, few studies have explored occurrences of WMSDs among physical therapists themselves.

FIU researchers Denis Brunt and Edgar Vieira, along with physical therapy faculty members Lisa Roberts and Colleen Rose St. Prix, reviewed the literature on occurrences of WMSDs among physical therapists, and have received a grant from the Florida Physical Therapy Association to conduct a survey of physical therapists to assess the prevalence of such injuries in the profession.

Through the survey, Brunt, Vieira and their team plan to evaluate the prevalence, severity and characteristics of WMSD symptoms among physical therapists in different settings and areas.

Mobile technology and maternity care

Low-income, first-time mothers are one of the largest groups living below the poverty level, and often have problems accessing health care once their children are born. Assistant professors Jean Hannan of the undergraduate nursing program and Timothy Page from the Department of Health Policy and Management have received funding from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development to test the effects of mobile technology intervention on maternal and infant health outcomes in that population.

Increasing practitioners in health care fields

Four separate grants were received last fall to train health professionals, three of which aim to provide more instruction and guidance on working with patients from diverse cultures. The U.S. Department of Education awarded FIU a five-year $1.2 million grant to train more culturally and linguistically diverse occupational therapists for schools. Cultural sensitivity and training are also a focus of two grants from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. One grant will use a virtual learning platform and clinical experience simulating a diverse range of situations requiring cultural competency in health care providers. The second will create a culturally competent combined BSN to MSN nursing program.

In addition to expanding training programs, a total of $3 million from two grants will be spread out in student scholarships over the next four years. The grants, both from the Health Resources and Services Administration, will help disadvantaged students from ethnically diverse and minority backgrounds pursuing Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology degrees.