Healthy Harvesters Research Assistant (Course Credit)

Submitted by omiltner on Wed, 09/27/2023 - 14:13

Role Description

The Healthy Harvesters team is looking to enroll students for course credit in the Fall 2023 semester. Paid opportunities may be available on a case-by-case basis.

Melanoma accounts for nearly 10% of all incident cancer cases in Arizona. While UV overexposure is the primary modifiable risk factor, obesity is also associated with increased melanoma risk and worse melanoma outcomes. Melanoma survivors are at an increased risk for second primary colorectal, breast, or prostate cancer diagnosis. Adherence to current diet and physical activity recommendations may alleviate the consequences of cancer treatment and is associated with lower cancer mortality. Current recommendations for melanoma prevention and survivorship include maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and eating a healthy diet—yet population adherence remains low. Interventions to promote adherence are essentially non-existent for melanoma survivors, and many melanoma survivors do not change their activities after treatment. As such, there is a need for tailored programs targeting synergistic cancer preventive behaviors to objectively measure personal UV exposure and programs to promote healthy lifestyles.                                                                                            

We suggest developing a program geared towards health and community resilience through community gardening. This VIP program directly looks at the links between health and the urban and natural environments, as we work to improve the quality of life for many Arizonans. Harvest for Health, a mentored gardening program for breast cancer survivors in Alabama, demonstrated high acceptability and retention, as well as increased vegetable and fruit accessibility and consumption, improved physical health, and enhanced social support. Application of wearable UV sensors to monitor and provide just-in-time feedback of UV exposure may be an effective strategy to reduce sunburns and improve sun-protective behaviors for melanoma survivors in community gardening through Harvest for Health Together Arizona (H4H2-AZ). To our knowledge, this is the first study designed to improve supportive cancer care by integrating melanoma patients with existing community gardening networks and including wearable UV sensors and just-in-time feedback to evaluate impact on cancer preventive health behaviors (including diet, physical activity, energy balance, and UV protection).

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