USM professor trains community health advisors on COVID-19 awareness


Dr. Susan Mayfield Johnson (Courtesy: USM)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – An associated professor in the School of Health Professions at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) will train community health advisors (CHAs) on COVID-19 awareness in underserved areas of Mississippi.

Dr. Susan Mayfield Johnson has helped train CHAs for more than 20 years and is currently leading the initiative titled: “The Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities.” CEAL is an initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health that seeks to accomplish the following objectives:  

  1. Conduct urgent community-engaged research and outreach focused on COVID-19 awareness and education to address widespread misinformation about COVID-19 and promote an evidence-based response to the disease.
  2. Promote and facilitate inclusion of diverse racial and ethnic populations in COVID-19 clinical trials, reflective of the populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Mississippi is one of 11 states participating in the CEAL initiative, and the Mississippi CEAL team includes researchers from USM, University of Mississippi Medical Center, the Mississippi State Department of Health and Tougaloo College. Project teams are conducting five research projects that engage community partners in COVID-19 awareness and education, especially among African American, Latinx, and American Indian communities.

“Community health advisors are particularly well-known for their contributions to promoting health equity, including addressing social determinants of health and improving health outcomes for chronic diseases,” said Johnson. “Racial disparities in rates of COVID-19 infection and deaths have brought new attention to glaring health inequities in the U.S., with calls for disaggregation of COVID-19 data to identify different impacts of the virus on varies populations.”

The CEAL project is set to conclude in September.

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