Marshall economist leads class in service learning project

Dr. Michael Newsome’s spring econometrics class recently completed a well received public health service learning project in partnership with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department (CHHD) and the state-wide organization Change The Future West Virginia (CTFWV), which is being funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The project involved a door-to-door survey of residents of nine western West Virginia counties. Students in the class helped develop the survey questions, conduct focus groups, edit the survey instrument, streamline the coding process, elicit responses and enter data.  The survey asked for information concerning respondents’ physical activities, eating and grocery habits, health conditions, health care access, attitudes about risk and the future, and awareness of public health issues. In particular, the survey gathered information about each respondent’s body mass index, cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension.

Over the summer, Newsome completed the analysis and submitted the results in a final report titled “Physical Activity, Eating Habits, and Health in Western West Virginia.”

The results of the survey are being used for two purposes.  First, the survey provides general additional baseline information for the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health’s Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology (DIDE) Region II’s epidemiologist,  Second, the survey results help the CTFWV Region 4’s director plan how best to allocate limited resources geographically by county and implement the initiative’s three elements: promoting tobacco-free living; promoting healthy eating and active living; and promoting high quality clinical and preventive health services in communities.

Tim Hazelett, the CTFWV Region 4 director, wrote, “We are truly appreciative to partner with you and Marshall University for our community needs. This will help guide our work in the region as we look to strategically plan and allocate our resources with Change the Future WV. We look forward to strengthening our partnership and collaborating on projects in the future.”  Dr. Harry Tweel, medical director and administrative director of the CHHD, wrote that he is “truly grateful for you and your students’ excellent input.”  Debbie Ellison, Region II’s epidemiologist, wrote “It isn’t often that I get to see a project from start to completion without too many hiccups.  Thank you for all the time and effort you and your students have placed into this project.”

Newsome is currently working with  Hazelett and Dr. Monika Sawhney, the director of the Department of Public Health in the College of Health Professions at Marshall, to present a portion of the results at the upcoming West Virginia Rural Health Conference.

Newsome is a professor of economics in his 16th year at Marshall. He teaches undergraduate econometrics and microeconomics, as well as health economics in the Doctor of Management Practice in Nurse Anesthesia program.