Monday, July 26, 2010

#ALOHA Mahalo Black Women, Eating Disorders & Racism

Thanks to Miss @Jazzzyone sharing this SURVEY on her blog of a research study whose purpose to recognize the experiences of this population, so as to inform theory which influences psychological counseling services and the training of clinicians.

I have been trained for Clinical Trials, so I know a few things on how they are done. My research in the past has been focused on human chronic disease, such as cardiovascular, aging, diabetes and cancer. When my paper that found that premature aging mice developed diet induced diabetes and was told that no one will read my paper by my lead professor and just a general Google search yielded EIGHT researchers have published papers citing my paper, I think I do have something significant to say on any research study...

Why? Because my paper was published in a 3rd tier journal--NO ONE CITES a 3rd tier paper EIGHT times... That means I ought to have gone for 2nd tier if I had more support.

BREATHE!!! I left research for that reason, alone... I got sick of my ideas, efforts and abilities being squashed. My entire graduate school career was fraught with blood, sweat and tears and I was no longer having any more fun!

So after Jazzzy's blog she asks some really good questions and my answers are mixed there in and my comments are on her blog, also.

Thanks for the link to the online survey. I have taken the survey and shared it on my FB groups and will be encouraging others to take it.

What do you think of the idea of this research study?: My initial review is I hope they get relevant data for the power number they seek in this clinical evaluation. I do not think they will without a huge marketing support system and people understanding why it is important to determine some things.

Do you plan on participating?: Like I said, I participated because I support all research in understanding why it is what we do and know that it is not solely due to bigotry and racism. That is not enough to define a social determinant to health.

What do you expect to be in the findings?: There will be outliers, how significant I do not know. Regionally there will be differences, especially if they are collecting IP addresses as a current locale to triangulate differences. That is a hint to them because some of the questions - like stating "skin complexion" there will be misnomer effects depending on region.

Is there a connection between racism & Black women’s eating habits and body image? Yes and no. Yes, because of socialization. No because of survival. A nurture, nature thing. Most of the Black Women I know do try to eat healthy. Probably because I am older. Teenagers and young adults under 25 generally do not know what healthy eating looks like if they have not be reared to understand it. So of course they are going to engage in unhealthy eating habits like eating potato chips for the entire week, even though they know salad is healthy to make. Is that due to bigotry for Black women? I think the impact of this study is the misnomer that Black Women do not have eating disorders when it is clinical apparent they do. There is huge amounts of data from the ER of Black Women coming in after a binging and purging cycle and there is organ failure or heart damage. And when asked how come they did not seek mental health care for their problem, it usually the off-putting they are getting from the clinician because the clinician fails to see the signs in Black Women. So...what are the signs of a eating disorder in black women and is it due to racism?

If you’re a Black woman, have you noticed a connection between your feelings of stress, anxiety, anger and loneliness and your eating habits?: Most definitely!

Can this research shed some light on the chasm between Black women and between Black women and Black men?: No. I found those questions on the survey too broad to find any medians that can be drawn from the study. Besides based on those studies that is a "sociological question" than a "psychological question".

What’s the one misconception about you or Black women in general that you would like to eliminate or clarify?: On eating disorders--Black women have them just like any other woman that has them. To what extent remains to be determined. I know personally a few binge/purgers more than I know anorexics. I know a few Black Women anorexics that do not look like ones. There is also the predispositions to several chronic illnesses, such a cancer, heart disease and diabetes that Black women are a high risk group. Is it due to the social determinants of health or is it due to a more organic biological issue - i.e. a shift in the body to use insulin in the case of diabetes? I don't know? Either way, I think that needs to be determined.

If you’ve completed the survey, wanna share some of your responses/reactions?: It is a good start. I have not seen the kinds of publicity for this clinical study compared to others. I have seen openness in the trial and the willingness to share. And when I see some of the questions, while I can recognized the overall intent, there is still a cultural incompetency to the question design. Who is the demographic they are trying to reach? Educated or all African Americans? I did not see a clear demarcation between psychological questions and sociological questions? The issue is called data "bias" and "equipose"- once the data is obtained and tabulated will the results be skewed to fit the original hypothesis? We know the purpose of the study, but the general public will not know what the hypothesis is until a "brief synopsis" is published. I can tell you what they are attempting though based on the cursory information - basically telling clinicians what to look for in Black Women Eating Disorders. I wish them the best of luck on that, but I think they will have to use some multivariate statistics to "fit" the hypothesis.