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Doctoral Students Recognized by American Public Health Association

Talley Student Union

The American Public Health Association is recognizing two NC State doctoral students for their research in psychology.

Ph.D. candidates Betty-Shannon Prevatt and Evan Lowder will receive separate awards at the APHA’s annual meeting this week in Denver.

Betty-Shannon Prevatt.
Betty-Shannon Prevatt.

Prevatt, a doctoral student in NC State’s Applied Social and Community Psychology program, will receive the APHA Mental Health Section’s 2016 Kenneth Lutterman Student Award. The award recognizes the best student paper submitted to the Mental Health Section each year.

Prevatt’s research examines new moms’ experiences and what resources are available and needed to properly address postpartum adjustment in the community. Her paper submitted to the APHA specifically focuses on women’s disclosure patterns of mental health symptoms.

“I was particularly interested in facilitators and barriers that promote or hinder these discussions between women and their health care providers,” Prevatt said. “There is literature about physician factors but not as much about patient factors.”

Prevatt surveyed more than 200 women about their experiences as new mothers. While more than half of the sample reported postpartum mood disorder, one in five of the women did not disclose that information to a healthcare provider, according to Prevatt’s findings. About half of the women also reported at least one barrier that made help-seeking “extremely difficult” or “impossible.” In addition, more than one-third indicated they had less than adequate social support.

“I am excited that my study may help improve the way we craft interventions and improve disclosure rates (and ultimately treatment) for postpartum mood disorders,” Prevatt said.

Evan Lowder.
Evan Lowder.

Lowder, who also studies in the Applied Social and Community Psychology program, will receive the APHA Disability Section’s Student Incentive Award. The award recognizes outstanding student research abstracts submitted to the Disability Section each year.

Lowder has studied the SOAR model for the past two years. SOAR, or SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery, is a program designed to increase access to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for eligible adults at risk of homelessness, many of which have significant mental illnesses and medical impairments.

Lowder’s most recent project involved a multi-level analysis of national SOAR application data collected through the SOAR Online Application Tracking system. As part of the study, she investigated applicant-related and state-level factors associated with faster application processing time and higher likelihood of application approval.

“My findings identified groups of applicants (e.g., applicants living in institutional settings, male applicants, applicants not receiving public assistance) who had better application outcomes and also found that some of these effects were more pronounced in states with higher SSI/SSDI award rates,” Lowder said. “Most relevant to the SOAR model, I found that submission of medical records, preparation of the medical summary report and obtaining a co-signature on the application were the most important predictors of a successful SOAR-assisted application.”

Prevatt and Lowder will both attend the annual meeting to present their research and accept their awards. For more information, visit the APHA’s website.