Social and Environmental Influences on Diabetes Management for Low-Income San Franciscans

Summer 2020

Kameswari "Kamu" Potharaju : Public Health

Donor: Anonymous
Mentor: David J. Harding

While it is well-established that the social determinants of health play a monumental role in patients’ management of their health, there is more to be learned about how a deeper understanding of the social and physical environment can be applied to shape beneficial interventions. Learning how a patient’s neighborhood affects their ability to visit the doctor in their area or have access to a caregiver can inform the design of technological tools that address these “pain points” along a patient’s journey to access quality healthcare. This summer, I will be working with the Lyles Lab at UCSF. My research will determine the interplay of individual, interpersonal, and neighborhood-level influence on diabetes self-management tasks for low-income individuals in San Francisco, through the lens of qualitative inquiry supplemented with geospatial analysis. Through my research, I hope to better understand how qualitative research on social and environmental factors can be translated to the design and implementation of patient-centered interventions, particularly in urban areas with large proportions of low-income and ethnically diverse individuals.

I am so grateful to have been a SURF Fellow this summer. Despite the upheaval of COVID-19, it was a privilege to have been able to continue pursuing my research and to make progress on my honors thesis. With the financial support and mentorship from the SURF program, I was able to delve into the world of implementation science and public health through my research, while also expanding my research skills and reflecting on my future plans through the workshops offered by SURF. Most importantly, I was able to gain a community of fellow scholars and learn about the fascinating research being done by my peers in a wide range of fields that I previously knew little about. I feel much more confident about my ability to communicate my work and its importance with peers outside of my field. Participating in SURF was an honor and I am so glad that I was able to have an extremely enriching and intellectually fulfilling summer thanks to our incredible donors, and I am excited to see how my research progresses for the rest of the academic year and beyond!