Public Health Ph.D. Student Receives National Health and Disability Fellowship

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Erin Vinoski Thomas, a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the UNC Charlotte Department of Public Health Sciences, was recently awarded the National Association of County and City Health Departments’ (NACCHO) 2018-2019 Health and Disability Fellowship. In this position, Erin will have the opportunity to network with leaders in the fields of disability and public health, develop materials to educate the public health workforce, and provide technical assistance to local health departments across the country with the goal of increasing the inclusion of people with disabilities in public health programs, products and services.

Thomas said people with disabilities are often overlooked as a population group that faces significant and systematic discrimination resulting in poor health outcomes.

“Individuals with disabilities experience some of the most profound disparities with regard to health access and outcomes,” she said. “Ensuring that community health programs and policies are inclusive of and accessible to people with a range of disabilities is one of the best ways to increase health equity- a fundamental goal of public health.”

Thomas’s research aims to understand how individual and social factors influence health behavior in marginalized populations, with a specific emphasis on women with disabilities. The NACCHO fellowship will provide her opportunities to translate knowledge into practice by building bridges between scientific communities, government agencies and the public.

Thomas is expected to receive her Ph.D. in Public Health Sciences with a concentration in Behavioral Science in 2019.