SF Health Investigators with members of the public during the Zika Campaign.
© University of California—San Francisco.
Learn More https://nihsepa.org/project/san-francisco-health-investigators/

SFHI Summary and Topics
Since June 2016, the UCSF Science & Health Education Partnership has been working with San Francisco Unified High School students on a public health research project that leverages students’ cultural knowledge as they take on the role of Student Researchers and investigate the awareness, knowledge, and attitudes about current health issues in their communities. Each year, the program focuses on a different health topic; past topics have included infectious diseases, immunity, and antibiotic resistance. Students learn the science content that underlies the topic, conduct surveys to understand the level of knowledge and awareness about this topic in the community, then develop a health messaging campaign to raise awareness (or increase knowledge) about the health issue that is the focus for the year. The program hopes to build students’ awareness of careers in public health and empower them to understand that they can use research to affect positive change in their communities.

The third cohort launches their work in July 2018 and will be working in partnership with the SF Cancer Initiative to address disparities in cancer screening, diagnosis, and outcomes in the San Francisco Bay Area. From July–October the group will assess the level of understanding about cancer in the community and use this information to inform their health message campaign. The campaign debut is scheduled for November 3rd at AT&T Park Discovery Day as part of the Bay Area Science Festival.

The Zika Campaign
Amid the Zika crisis, SFHI students in 2016 developed a health messaging campaign that focused on mosquito borne illnesses generally and building awareness about Zika more specifically. While there was little risk of local transmission in San Francisco, many of our city’s Latino residents have family ties to the countries with active Zika transmission and/or live in communities where travel to Zika affected regions is commonplace. Given the devasting impact of Zika on developing fetuses and the low level of awareness about the disease in San Francisco, students focused primarily on building awareness about Zika among women of childbearing age.

The campaign was informed by data obtained through an interview-based formative survey. The High School Student Researchers interviewed more than 30 subjects to understand the community’s awareness about Zika and mosquito-borne illness. Data collected in the surveys was used to develop targeted health messages to spread awareness among San Francisco populations that are most vulnerable to Zika virus. A subsequent study of the health messages found evidence that the students’ health messages effectively increased awareness of the threat of Zika among viewers while also prompting those who viewed the messages to consider taking action to protect their own health and that of their family.

SFHI Health Message Campaigns

How Vaccines Work

Associated Project:
San Francisco Health Investigators

Associated Institution:
University of California San Francisco