Our Mission

Our Department of Public Health is committed to educating professionals and conducting research to improve the health of communities in our region and beyond. We practice a combination of science and social approaches to reduce disease and systematically address the multiple determinants of health. Our work is rooted in strong partnerships with the community, health and social services, industry and business, academia, and the media.

News & Announcements

News & Announcements
Nancy Winterbauer
Researchers Tap technology targeting migrant workers in eastern NC

"Hurricane Florence had made landfall less than two weeks before a group of migrant workers gathered at sunset on an Edgecombe County farm to talk with East Carolina University researchers.

Mary Tucker-McLaughlin from the School of Communication and Nancy Winterbauer from the Department of Public Health are leading a project aimed at improving mental health among migrant workers through the use of geofencing and smartphones. Maritza Mata Betancourt of AMEXCAN has served as an interpreter and is assisting on the project. Maritza Mata Betancourt of AMEXCAN interprets questions and answers during the focus group. Maritza Mata Betancourt of AMEXCAN interprets questions and answers during the focus group.

Geofencing typically targets potential customers in a defined geographic area. Tucker-McLaughlin got the idea after talking with a friend in sales. “It occurred to me that you could deliver health education messages the same way,” she said.

Tucker-McLaughlin, Winterbauer and public health colleague Ann Rafferty began working on a grant in 2012 that involved workforce development and its relationship to communication of public health messages through traditional media. From there, the faculty members have collaborated on several projects.

The latest project came about as a result of two previous studies using geofence as a channel to communicate public health messages, Tucker-McLaughlin said. The first focused on distributing information about coastal hazards, specifically rip currents. The second study communicated messages about the ECU dental service learning clinic in Robeson County.

With the current project, researchers hope to raise awareness about resources to combat stress, anxiety and depression in the migrant worker population in eastern North Carolina. They also want to determine which tool works best, such as an interactive website or phone app, and if positive messages about mental health are more effective than negative ones. For example, a positive message would be “taking steps to reduce stress can make you happier” while a negative one would say “not reducing stress can take a toll on your health and your family life.”

While Hurricane Florence spared the tobacco and sweet potato farmers in Edgecombe County, they were stressed from missing work because they don’t get paid when they are not working. Some other stressors can be transportation, access to health care and family issues in Mexico.

Back home, the workers said they take walks or play soccer or other sports, or sometimes go to the park to try to reduce stress. Here, they also walk, doing laps down a rural road, or play soccer.

The workers have left eastern North Carolina temporarily, and either returned home or are working with Christmas tree farmers in the mountains. They are expected back in March for the planting season, when banner ads containing links to an interactive website about mental health established by the Mexican government will be launched as part of the ECU project, Tucker-McLaughlin said.

“In the next few months, we will be designing the banner ads based on feedback from the focus group,” she said.

The advanced mobile technology message will be dropped with a demographic to reach all seasonal migrant workers in eastern North Carolina. Farms in the region include approximately 200 workers, Tucker-McLaughlin said.

The project is funded by a $3,000 grant from the College of Fine Arts and Communication. An autumn sunset on a farm in Edgecombe County."

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ECU and UNCP form public health program partnership

"ECU and UNC Pembroke have entered into a partnership to enhance research and improve the health of eastern Carolina residents.

Leaders from ECU and UNC Pembroke officially signed off on a new partnership that commits the universities to a collaborative approach to research, and creates a more direct path for qualified Pembroke graduates to gain admission to ECU's graduate level public health degree programs.

Both universities have missions to improve the health of people living in the east.

Doctor Ronny Bell with ECU says a well trained public health workforce will help meet the region's needs.

Dr. Bell says, "Eastern North Carolina has a number of health disparities and chronic diseases and different health outcomes that require a public health approach to address them."

Dr. Bell says well qualified UNC Pembroke graduates will receive priority admission to both ECU's master and doctor of public health degree programs."

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Ann Rafferty
ECU study shows 1 in 10 Americans have loaded & unlocked gun in home

"A new report by experts at ECU has determined that nearly one in ten Americans live in a home with a loaded and unlocked gun.

The ECU report asked American gun owners about their safety practices and 25 percent of those surveyed who own firearms said they have one or more loaded and unlocked firearms in their home.

According to the report, an estimated 393 million firearms are owned by civilians in America, but little is known about how many Americans actually follow the basic rules of gun safety and the implications for public health.

In the report, ECU faculty members and report co-authors Dr. Ann Rafferty and Dr. Joseph Lee write, "Firearm violence is a serious public health issue and firearm presence and safe storage are key components.

You can read the entire report by clicking on the related link."

Reported on WITN.com

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Poster Presentations

MPH students presented their professional paper and/or field placement at the poster session Friday, November 30, 2018. The poster session was held in ECHI Conference Room A from 10 am - Noon.

Professional Paper

Jasmine Hayes. Assessing Resilience Among Vulnerable Populations Impacted by Flooding in Eastern North Carolina: Hurricane Floyd and Hurricane Matthew.

Kalynn Hosea. Analysis of Cost-Related Medication Nonadherence in Patients with Diabetes.

Kiana Kerwin. Are Racial/Ethnic Minority Women at High Risk for Postpartum Depression? A Systematic Literature Review.

Lauren Marino. Outcomes Characteristics of a Pediatric Home Health Hospice Agency.

Shivani Pandya. Examining Perceived Advantages and Disadvantages on Online Grocery Shopping Among Women Enrolled in The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

Erica Savage. Improve the Quality and Efficiency Providing Services for Limited English Proficiency Victims of Domestic Violence in Eastern North Carolina.

Kami Tabor. Evaluation of the REACH at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Pre-Diabetic Program.

Hillary Weismiller. An Examination of Food and Beverage Items Purchased Online vs. In-Store among Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Participants in Eastern NC.

Alexia Williams. Attitudes and Practices Towards Tobacco Cessation Counseling Among Pre-Doctoral Dental Students and Dental Hygiene Students.

Field Placement

Gabriel Beattie-Sergio. Establishing the East Carolina University Sarcoidosis Registry (ECUSaR) - A Work in Progress.

Rebecca Dean. Improving Pediatric Clinical Trials Management: Development of a Real-time Tracking System Using REDCap.

Satyaprasad Gudapati. A Cost Analysis Study for iVAS Cardiac Assist Device in Patients With Heart Failure.

KiAna Kirk. De-Stress Fest: A Campus Wellness Intervention.

Brittany Lancaster. North Carolina Community Health Worker Initiative.

Liza Layton. Albermarle Regional Health Services Internship.

Nicole Powers. CHG Bathing: a Quality Improvement Effort to Reduce CLABSI and CAUTI Rates.

Kami Tabor. Diabetes Prevention Program.

Constantine Unanka. Disparities in Trends Among Occupational-Related Injuries in North Carolina, 2000-2015.

Hillary Weismiller. Vidant Health Center for Research and Grants Internship.

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Souza Endowed Scholarship

ECU Leadership honors Mr. J. Craig Souza at a November 15, 2018 reception. The J. Craig Souza long term care scholarship is the first endowed scholarship for the future ECU Rural School of Public Health slated to form in 2020. The scholarship amount already exceeds $100,000 and specifically provides support to Master of Public Health students in the health administration concentration who are completing their administrator in training (AIT) for becoming licensed long-term care administrators. Mr. Souza recently retired as the president of the North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association. He is an ECU alumni and former chair of the ECU Board of Trustees and Vice Chair of the UNC Board of Governors. ECU leadership in attendance were Chancellor and Mrs. Cecil Staton, Dr. Mark Notestine, President of the Medical & Health Sciences Foundation; Vice Chancellor & President ECU Foundation Chris Dyba; Jeff McPherson and Grace Tolson, ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation; Adam Sholar, President of North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association; Allison Dew, Director of Communication and Major Events, North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association; Cindy Deporter, NCDHSR and Hal Garland, Administrator of McGregor Downs and member of the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators. ECU MPH alumni present who have completed the focus in long term care and currently licensed administrators are Julia Batts, Truman Vereen, Gina Firnhaber, Paul Stockett and Nick White. Kristin Wooten and Wanda Strickland, department of public health staff were in attendance. Department of Public Health Faculty in attendance included Dr. Marla Hall and Dr. Ruth Little.

Chancellor Staton thanked Mr. Souza for this leadership and stressed the importance of this endowment for the future Rural School of Public Health. Mr. Souza thanked industry leaders who have contributed to the scholarship fund. Mr. Souza thanked Dr. Little for leading this integration of long- term care into public health in collaboration with industry leaders, several of whom were present at the reception. Dr. Little expressed appreciation to Mr. Souza for his support and leadership serving as a key partner for the $1.1 Duke Endowment grant in 2009 that launched this training program. Mr. Truman Vereen spoke on behalf of the ECU alumni, stressing the importance of the program for increasing the public health workforce in rural eastern North Carolina and beyond.

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Taras Grinchak

Name: Taras Grinchak
Major: Master of Public Health in Epidemiology
College: Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, ECU
Year in School: 2nd year

Research In The Region

A private funding source for research at ECU's Brody School of Medicine is supporting pediatric asthma research by Dr. Greg Kearney.

Council on Education for Public Health


The ECU MPH Program is nationally accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). A copy of our final self-study report (2012) and a subsequent interim report (2013) on compliance with all accreditation criteria are available here. To request a copy of our official accreditation reports, please contact Wanda Strickland at stricklandw@ecu.edu or by calling (252) 744-4037.