Dr. Tettey is an associate professor of public health at William Paterson University. She teaches courses in health behavior theory, health administration, and health disparities. Her main research interests are in health disparities and health equity, social media and health, and criminal justice reform.
Specifically, her research focuses on:
1. the reduction of health disparities and chronic illness through the creation of effective partnerships between community members, community organizations, health care organizations, and academic institutions.
2. capacity building within faith-based organizations as a strategy for creating effective and sustainable health education programs.
3. the role of leadership in faith-based organizations in creating a culture of wellness in places of worship and surrounding communities.
4. the utilization of holy books such as the Bible and Koran as tools for promoting positive health behavior change.
5. the reduction of health disparities through the use of social media to create effective social support networks for health education.
African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by cardiovascular disease (CVD). Faith-based institutions provide a non-traditional route for health education targeted at African-Americans. This paper describes HeartSmarts, a faith-based CVD education program. Evidence-based literature was used to develop a curriculum, which was tailored by integrating biblical scripture representing aspects of health behaviors. Eighteen church peer-educators were recruited to participate in a 12-week training. They then disseminated the faith-based curriculum to members of their congregations. There were 199 participants of which 137 provided feedback via open-ended surveys indicating that HeartSmarts was well accepted and effective for disseminating CVD health messages while engaging spirituality.
In order to effectively address cardiovascular disease among African Americans, evidence-based health information must be disseminated within a context aligned with the values and beliefs of the population. Faith-based organizations play a critical role in meeting the religious and spiritual needs of many African Americans. Additionally, faith-based organizations can be effective in health promotion. A manual was created by incorporating biblical scriptures relating to health messages drawn from existing health manuals oriented toward African Americans. Lay health educators active in their churches participated in a 12-week training to learn the basics of cardiovascular disease and methods for delivering the program to their congregations' members. Fourteen predominantly African American churches in NYC participated.
Understanding the social determinants of health, health equity, and social justice from a social ecological perspective is vital for public health students. This paper provides an example of a creative method for teaching health disparities, using the HBO television series The Wire. Methods: The pedagogical strength of The Wire for public health courses is presented, a framework for using this media text in the classroom is shared, and implications for classroom instruction are explored. Conclusions: The Wire is an innovative and effective teaching tool for teaching health disparities and engaging the next generation of public health educators.
Faith-based health education programs are effective in improving the health of participants. Specifically, programs facilitated by churches have provided much-needed health resources and information to underserved communities. Research in this area has focused primarily on the effectiveness of faith-based health interventions. However, it is also important to highlight potential barriers to program implementation. The purpose of this paper is to share the lessons learned from the HeartSmarts faith-based cardiovascular health education program in regard to issues that could occur at the beginning of the program.
The United States of America currently incarcerates 2.2 million people. We have more people behind bars than any other country. The people in America’s prisons are disproportionately from minority, low-income, and socially marginalized communities. The experience of incarceration and the consequences of having been to prison - including institutionalized barriers to social welfare programs, housing, employment, voting, higher education, and more - leaves formerly incarcerated people even more likely to remain poor and marginalized. Though the United States spends upwards of $86 billion on corrections each year, incarcerated people are given few resources to facilitate successful re-entry. 90 percent of incarcerated people will be released, but 40 percent will return to prison within three years. Cyclical recidivism weakens communities and families and, in doing so, perpetuates social and economic inequalities. Education has repeatedly been shown to be one of the most effective ways to decrease both crime and the financial and societal costs of incarceration.
The Petey Greene Program supplements education in correctional institutions by preparing volunteers, primarily college students, to provide free, quality tutoring and related programming to support the academic achievement of incarcerated people. Under the guidance of Dr. Tettey, student from William Paterson University have completed all training and will begin tutoring for the Petey Greene program.
As part of her work regarding criminal justice reform, Dr. Tettey took a group of her students to tour New Jersey State Prison. The tour was very educational and touched upon all aspects of public health. Students were able to witness how the inmates live and explore some major public health issues such as policies surrounding transgender inmates and undiagnosed/untreated mental illness.
The highlight of the trip was meeting with two inmates and having an in-depth conversation with them about their experiences. They have both been incarcerated for 30 years and are serving life sentences. They discussed the many social determinants that are leading to mass incarceration including the school to prison pipeline and poverty. This was a full circle moment for the students because these are the topics they discuss in their health disparities class.