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TC Doctoral Student Receives Society for Public Health Education Fellowship

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TC Doctoral Student Receives Society for Public Health Education Fellowship

Ray Marks

Ray Marks, a doctoral student in the Department of Health and Behavioral Studies was selected as one of three Society for Public Health (SOPHE) Fellows in Unintentional Injury Prevention. According to M. Elaine Held, the Executive Director of SOPHE, "the selection panel, comprised of representatives from SOPHE, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and academic and practitioner settings, was extremely impressed with Marks' proposal to examine potential determinants for falls among older adults and assess the short-term outcomes of a multidimensional risk intervention program."

Held added, "this fellowship was designed to support the training of a new generation of injury prevention researchers and practitioners who work in behavioral science, and we are pleased to have Ray as one of our fellows for the 2000-2001 program year."

"Ray Marks has been an outstanding doctoral student and has unlimited potential as an investigator," said Professor John Allegrante, who is Marks' doctoral research sponsor and collaborator, and a past president of SOPHE. "I think she is one of the few doctoral students in health education in the nation who is in a position to give future leadership to the kinds of injury prevention and control efforts that many of us hope will unfold from the work that this fellowship will support."

Marks said that the fellowship follows some of the work that she and Professor Allegrante have been doing and attempts to "expand on what we feel is a very important health area, which has not been previously addressed comprehensively."

"What I hope to do is to try to implement a multidimensional health education program, specifically designed for individuals who have experienced a recent fall, and to try and compare the outcomes of this intervention with a similar group, who will simply get the standard care that is now available," said Marks.

Marks commented, "I feel that the research will show very favorable results in terms of possibly preventing future falls, injuries, impairments, and hospitalizations, even in the short space of time of this one-year grant."

Marks explained the causes of falls fit into two categories. "There are those that are related to factors within the individual, the intra-individual characteristics such a person's age, actual level of physical fitness, and the amount of medication he or she may be taking. And then there's very strong evidence of an environmental component."

"We are particularly looking at people," Marks said, "in their own homes and at hazards within the home, such as the type of flooring, carpeting, or banisters which are in a state of ill repair. There's strong evidence that each of those hazards, alone or in combination, plus the effects of intra-individual factors, might interact to produce a fall and a fall injury."

Marks is going to try and identify on an individual basis what might be the most salient factors that have caused a fall for a particular individual, and implement a program accordingly.

This particular fellowship is the only one given to students. However Marks is also working with Allegrante on a grant project that is being funded by Cornell Aging Center. That study deals with falls and hip fractures from a slightly different viewpoint. "There we are concentrating on the intra-individual factors," Marks added, "such as poor nutrition and lack of balance that might contribute to falls."

She is also currently finishing research with Allegrante on the role of strength at the knee and its impact on falls and hip fractures, which was funded by the Arthritis Foundation.

Marks said she was both pleased and honored that she received the fellowship. "I'm very happy and I hope that I can produce the results that are demanded of such an auspicious award in such a short space of time."

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