Interdisciplinary Health PhD Program
Three emphases: disability, health equity, & psychosocial health
The Interdisciplinary Health (IH) PhD Program at Northern Arizona University is a collaborative effort between the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS). It is designed to educate and train the next generation of health researchers, advocates, and educators. Graduates from this degree program will be prepared to engage and collaborate with others to investigate and address complex state, regional, national, and global issues pertaining to disabilities, health equity, and psychosocial health.
Top faculty in health-related disciplines
The IH PhD program draws on the research, teaching, and mentoring strengths from core and affiliate faculty located in the Colleges of HHS (Communication Sciences and Disorders, Dental Hygiene, Health Sciences, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy/Athletic Training, and Physician Assistant Programs) and SBS (Anthropology, Applied Indigenous Studies, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Geography/Parks & Recreation, Institute for Human Development, Psychological Sciences, Politics and International Affairs, Sociology, and Social Work). Individuals who are interested in applying to the program should consult the list of IH PhD program faculty to identify potential faculty mentors (also helpful is detailed lists of steering committee members). There are many more faculty across NAU that also have health-related teaching and research interests.
Cutting edge research
The goal of the program is to train students to engage in interdisciplinary health-related research of the highest quality. The IH PhD Program faculty provide students with opportunities to engage in interdisciplinary health-related research. The research and curricular topics address important questions and issues related to health equity, disability, and psychosocial health.
IH research specialization
The IH PhD program at NAU offers three specializations for interdisciplinary research – Disability, Health Equity, and Psychosocial Health.
Disability Accordion Closed
Disability research seeks to maximize the inclusion of persons with disabilities, in all aspects of life, across the lifespan. Persons with disabilities may face health challenges similar to persons without disabilities and/or health challenges unique or specific to a type of disability. In either situation, health status may impact the extent to which a person with a disability can fully engage in life activities. Examples of projects include studying interventions for diabetes management among persons with disabilities, examining the impact of virtual reality-assisted rehabilitation for patients with neurologic diagnoses, or designing protocols for improving patient care practices for women with disabilities. Faculty conducting research in these areas are drawn from CHHS and SBS, including the SBS Institute for Human Development (a designated University Center for Excellence in Disability) whose grant-funded projects are focused on issues of access, attitude, and inclusion.
Health equity Accordion Closed
Health equity is a research priority at Northern Arizona University. Health equity focuses on the social and health care systems that support optimal health for all individuals and communities and informs program and policies designed to provide health-promoting environments attentive to ethnicity, income, education, and other social determinants of health. In addition to a multidisciplinary core of health equity researchers from CHHS and SBS, the Center for Health Equity Research (CHER) at NAU directs a health equity research and dissemination. CHER is funded by many organizations, including the National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities (Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative). Examples of projects include a regional health needs assessment for six northern Arizona counties, comparing social network transmission of infectious diseases within and across ethnic groups in northern and southern Arizona, understanding pathways of cardiovascular health and risk across socioeconomic status among U.S. residents, and examining possible biological determinants of dental health in rural Arizonans.
Psychosocial health Accordion Closed
Psychosocial health encompasses the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions of well-being and resilience. Empirical examinations in this area focus on predictors of psychosocial health, with an emphasis on these issues in the face of stressors or challenges, including those relevant to health equity and disability. Researchers from CHHS and SBS conduct research on topics related to how personality characteristics, coping strategies, social support, and other individual, interpersonal, social, and cultural factors impact psychosocial health. NAU faculty conduct both basic and applied research in a variety of populations. Examples include the role of social support on health, predictors of affective reactions to stress, and psychological, social, and cultural predictors of health and health-related behavior.