Sociology, Anthropology, and Public Health

Takashi Yamashita, Professor and Director of the Gerontology Ph.D Program

“As a social gerontologist, my research incorporates an interdisciplinary approach and life course perspective, which examines the process of aging from the earlier to later life. A seemingly small degree of difference can be amplified over the life course, and as such, social inequality and diversity are important areas of inquiry in my line of research.

One of my projects — Lifting All Voices, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, examines how community-based public health programs may address health and health information disparities among racial and ethnic minorities, as well as linguistic minorities in the City of Frederick areas in Maryland. In collaboration with the City of Frederick and the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy of the University of Maryland, College Park, my team looks into the impact of our health literacy and community health worker program to provide COVID-19-related health information in multiple languages. Given the systematic health disparities by race and ethnicity as well as native languages, we work with the Asian American Center of Frederick and the Frederick County Health Care Coalition and offer culturally and linguistically sensitive outreach programs. Trained community health workers use health literacy-sensitive materials and educate residents who may be socially vulnerable. Also, as an important part of this project, we prepared brief surveys in nine different languages to better understand the perceptions of residents in terms of COVID-19-related information access in their primary languages.

Our goals are to understand the COVID-19 health-related disparities by socially vulnerable residents in the area of Frederick, develop public health literacy infrastructure, and ultimately address the COVID-19health disparities as well as other public health issues. Our project is one of the Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 by the Office of Minority Health.”

Professor Yamashita (front left) at a meeting with the other stakeholders in Lifting All Voices.