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Spring 2012
Welcome to the 
 Institute for 
Community Health's 
Spring 2012 Newsletter! 


     With over a decade of success behind us and 2012 now underway, the Institute for Community Health (ICH) remains a leader in sustainable community health improvement. Using a participatory approach to evaluation and research, we work with communities to build on local strengths and resources and to generate and disseminate knowledge about local public health issues. Our commitment to building the evidence base for health programs and service effectiveness, along with building community capacity, allows us to maximize the positive impact of our work for underserved groups.

     In the past year, we have expanded our work with familiar and new community partners. Already a significant local partner with public health departments, school systems, and community organizations in Cambridge, Everett, Somerville, and Greater Boston, ICH now has a growing presence in communities across the state. We are also working closely with the primary care community as healthcare undergoes major systemic changes. We pride ourselves on our ability to work with partners like you to collaboratively advance public health in Massachusetts and beyond, and hope to further expand our work as 2012 continues!


   NEW photo of Karen for Welcome section








Karen Hacker, MD, MPH 

Executive Director,
 Institute for Community Health

Associate Professor of Medicine, 

 Harvard Medical School


ICH and Mass Alliance for Teen Pregnancy: success in partnering

     Teen pregnancy rates in Massachusetts are lower these days than in the past, but there is still more that can be done to reduce them. For over ten years, Institute for Community Health (ICH) has worked in partnership with the Mass Alliance for Teen Pregnancy (the Alliance), a non-profit organization that supports communities seeking evidence-based solutions to the complex issues associated with teen pregnancy. This successful partnership has entered a new era with the award of a five-year federal grant, the Youth First project.

     The goal of the grant, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is to assist the Western Massachusetts communities of Springfield and Holyoke in reducing their rates of teenage pregnancy through using effective community-wide strategies to enhance access to quality sexual health education and reproductive health services.

     "This is a big project with a lot of players,"  Read on...


Men's Health League puts long-term heart health first


for MHL article
Photo courtesy of Cambridge Public
 Health Department
    If you pay attention to popular media, taking care of cardiovascular health is not always at the top of men's list of priorities. However, the Cambridge-based Men's Health League (MHL) aims to change that - especially for men of color, who are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.
     This unique program was first conceived in 2007 with federal funding from the Office of Minority Health. Program staff recently organized a special event, "An Evening of Data, Stories and Discussion" at the Pisani Center in Cambridge, with ICH lead evaluator Shalini Tendulkar, ScD and ICH Director of Evaluation Elisa Friedman, MPH. Partners, stakeholders, and other community members attended the event, and as data collected and analyzed by ICH shows, there have been changes in how these men take care of their health. Read on...
PHACTS study to shape MA public health departments in future


     There is a strong tradition of "home rule" among municipalities in Massachusetts, says Justeen Hyde, Senior Scientist at the Institute for Community Health.  In addition to being free to pass laws and ordinances to meet local needs, home rule in Massachusetts requires that every municipality ensure that governmental services are provided to local residents, including assuring access to public health services through the local Board of Health.  
     Hyde says this local control is beneficial in some ways, as these departments know their local health issues well. But as state aid to municipalities has been significantly cut in recent years,  Read on,,,

 for PHACTS article

ICH survey of local public health capacity showed high participation rates from communities across Massachusetts

Compass project helps give homeless teens direction


    Teen homelessness in central Massachusetts is a problem that continues to grow. In 2010, a survey of Worcester teens by Clark University and the Worcester Teen Housing Task Force found that an astounding 20% reported experiencing homelessness at some point in the last year. Locally, multiple partners including the City of Worcester, local funders, community-based service providers, academics, and evaluators such as ICH's Dr. Justeen Hyde are coming together to address this significant public health and social justice problem for teens.
for Compass article

    Homelessness among young people is defined in a number of ways, including "couch surfing," "doubling up," or "living on the street."  Young people who are disconnected from their parents or guardians and experience homelessness are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, be exposed to violence and other traumatic events, suffer from mental health problems, and have poor overall health.  Preventing young people from becoming homeless Read on...


ICH boosts research on immigrant health

     It has been well-documented that immigrants do not have adequate access to health care services. At best, they are receiving inconsistent care - and without the protections of health insurance, the cost of even a single hospitalization can bring many into debt. With sustained funding, ICH can be instrumental in gathering data that will help to develop innovative approaches that could yield solutions to this complex problem.


     "Immigrants are resilient; after all, they got themselves here," says Karen Hacker, M.D. MPH, Executive Director of the Institute for Community Health. And "it's a good thing they are" she says, since in holding down often 3-4 jobs, this population often does not have time to make health care a priority.

      Immigrants often have multiple health issues, and one issue often triggers Read on...


Photo by Gig Harmon, included in the February 2010 presentation of results from the "Impact of Immigration Enforcement on Immigrant Health" project. This project was completed through one of ICH's local partnerships to address immigrant health needs.


In This Issue
~ ICH and Mass Alliance for Teen Pregnancy: success in partnering
~ Men's Health League puts heart health first
~ PHACTS study to shape MA public health departments in future
~ Compass project helps give homeless teens direction
~ ICH boosts research on immigrant health
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Our Vision 


The Institute for Community Health is a nationally recognized catalyst for sustainable community health improvement, uniting real world practice with academic research.


 Our Mission 


The Institute for Community Health utilizes participatory research and evaluation approaches to generate and disseminate knowledge about public health issues affecting communities. Core to ICH's approach is the development of long-term partnerships, a commitment to co-learning and capacity building, and a deep appreciation for the diverse experiences, perspectives, values and resources that partners contribute to community health improvement.


Our Values


The values of our organization are aligned with many of the principles that are foundational to community-based participatory research:

  • Our work builds on the strengths and resources within the community;
  • A belief in the power of collaborative and equitable partnerships in all phases of a research or evaluation project;
  • A commitment to co-learning and capacity building for all partners;
  • Valuing the diversity of experience, perspective and skill sets that partners contribute;
  • Balance research and action for the mutual benefit of all partners;
  • Shared generation of knowledge can lead to community health improvement. 


ICH News
ICH researcher Virginia Chomitz accepts faculty position at Tufts  
Ginny Chomitz and Board Chair David Link

Virginia Chomitz, PhD and

David A. Link, MD - ICH Board of Directors Chair and Chief of Pediatrics, Cambridge Health Alliance and Mount Auburn Hospital


     It is with both sadness and congratulations that ICH has recently bid farewell to Senior Scientist Dr. Virginia (Ginny) Chomitz, who left ICH in December to take on a full-time faculty position at Tufts University, where she was half-time since July 2010.


     Dr. Chomitz was with ICH since its beginning, and according to ICH Executive Director Dr. Karen Hacker, she "was instrumental in creating the organization and in growing all our work related to obesity prevention." While Dr. Chomitz's work at ICH focused primarily on promoting healthy weight through school-based nutrition and physical activity programs, she was also a key person in ICH's community engagement efforts over the years. She served as the ICH liaison to the Healthy Children Task Force, and worked tirelessly with countless partners in ICH's target communities.


     ICH will continue its commitment to obesity prevention and physical activity promotion and plans to continue to work with Dr. Chomitz in her new role to develop projects and proposals that serve local needs. Everyone at ICH wishes Dr. Chomitz the best in her new position, and thanks her for her incredible contributions to ICH over the last decade and a half!

ICH staff receive writing award for article on Asian student mental health   

     According to research by Drs. Lisa Arsenault, Lise Fried, and Karen Hacker of ICH and Dr. Suzan Song, Medical Director and Pediatric & Adult Psychiatrist of the Asian Americans for Community Involvement in California, risk factors for depression amongst Asian youth can vary from those that place Caucasian youth at risk. 

    A recent article publishing these findings, titled "Asian Student Depression in American High Schools: Differences in Risk Factors," has been selected by The Journal of School Nursing Editorial Advisory Board for their annual Scholarly Writing Award. This award aims to recognize excellence in writing as well as significant contribution to school nursing through providing an evidence base for improving school nursing practice. The authors hope that this article will help inform school-based health provider screening for depression amongst Asian students in particular. 

   For more information, click here to see the article abstract and the awarding journal. Congratulations to all involved!



      To celebrate our success and help get the word out about our work, the Institute for Community Health has recently begun a new, coordinated effort to become more visible to our partners - we've launched this quarterly newsletter, and we are increasing our online presence on Facebook and Twitter. We are also planning to launch a blog to share our knowledge with others.


     We hope that this first e-newsletter has helped give you a taste of where and how we are working with our partners to develop innovative public health programs and promote better health. We also invite you to join us in recognizing and promoting ICH's work in the community and among public health stakeholders by "liking" us on Facebook Like us on Facebook and following us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter .


     We thank you for your support and look forward to continued opportunities to communicate as 2012 moves forward!


Lise Fried, DSc, MS
Associate Director,

Institute for Community Health


 for end of newsletter, after concluding comments from Lise

Institute for Community Health Staff

Institute for Community Health 
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