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Accolades & Honors

Jessica R. Thompson wins doctoral award for community health planning and policy development

Jessica Thompson smiling with glasses and blue jacket

Jessica R. Thompson is a recent graduate of the University's Graduate School of Public Health, where she received her doctorate in behavioral and community health sciences. Last month, she was honored during the annual American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting and expo for a study that sought to uncover contributing factors to cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Appalachian women. This disease accounts for the most considerable portion of the gap in life expectancy between Appalachian women and other U.S. women.

The three-day expo, nicknamed a "public health playground," is a meeting place for professionals to learn, network and celebrate accomplishments within the field and APHA. 

Thompson's research, titled "Heart health experiences of rural Appalachian women: A community-engaged study," received this year's award for the group's Community Health Planning & Policy Development section, which aims to shift policy to eliminate disparities by advocating for healthy communities, health planning, improved policies and practices, health equity, community empowerment and social justice. 

The study's objectives included assessing "the range of perceived barriers to and facilitators of cardiovascular health" and identifying community-specific interventions to improve CVD prevention among rural Appalachian women in Pennsylvania. Thompson and her team have provided the groundwork for future studies to explore regional variation and consider new or adapted interventions to improve women's health in this understudied population.

Thompson is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. 

Photo courtesy of UPMC.