Meet Dr. Jason Douglas, the newest member of the Department of Health Sciences faculty at Chapman University’s Crean College and Health & Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Douglas received his Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he conducted research with underserved communities to develop an understanding of social and environmental inequities at the local, state, national, and international levels. Following his studies at CUNY, he was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Psychology Applied Research Center at Loyola Marymount University, where he conducted community-based, participatory research (CBPR) on understanding and redressing community health disparities on a national scale. In addition, he served as Director of Restorative Justice at Loyola Marymount University, where he developed and implemented youth participatory action research (YPAR) programs concerning inequitable access to greenspace in Los Angeles.
Dr. Douglas was recently awarded significant funding from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program for his grant “A Community Based Approach to Tobacco Control.” Low-income communities of color bear a disproportionate burden of alcohol and tobacco-related health disparities such as respiratory disease and cancer. Compounding these concerning health disparities, low-income communities of color are often overburdened with high densities of legal drug outlets including tobacco shops and off-premises alcohol outlets. Current evidence also indicates that medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries are rapidly infiltrating disadvantaged communities. This is particularly concerning, as recent research indicates that alcohol and tobacco use tends to be higher in communities that have high densities of legal drug outlets, thus unequally patterning morbidity and mortality risks associated with legal drug use including accidental injury, crime and violence, and addiction.
South Los Angeles is a low-income, health-poor, largely African American and Latino community with severe tobacco-related health disparities. To address these disparities, this CBPR program will examine the impact of tobacco outlets and their interaction with medical marijuana and retail marijuana dispensaries, and off-sale alcohol outlets on five major social determinants of poor community health: neighborhood crime, violence, health, safety, and economic activity. The grant is a collaboration with his colleagues at Loyola Marymount University Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Ravaris Moore, Dr. Ben Fitzpatrick, and Dr. Andrew Subica.
Tobacco-shops in low-income neighborhoods have been a source of frustration and concern for residents in Los Angeles County for years. In November of 2018, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors asked its lawyers to draft an ordinance banning tobacco shops in residential areas and near schools, parks and youth centers. The board called the situation a “quality of life issue” and cited findings in a recent Public Health report to support their decision.
Dr. Douglas’ work provides a new opportunity for undergraduates seeking research experience with an emphasis on public health. Three students have already signed on to work on the study with more on the way. The current students assisting Dr. Douglas are Sally Nyambura, Olivia Lounsbury, and Lauren DeMaria, all of whom discovered the lab by attending Crean College Faculty/Student Research Night held at the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester. Sally Nyambura said that she was instantly drawn to this type of research because she has an interest in understanding and serving the communities Dr. Douglas investigates. Lauren DeMaria said that Dr. Douglas’ work exactly matched the kind of research she was interested in pursuing when she came to Chapman. All of the students agreed that experience in public health provided a great way to apply theory and other topics covered in class.
If you would like to learn more about Dr. Douglas’ work, please click the links below to view some of his recent publications:
- The geography of crime and violence surrounding tobacco shops, medical marijuana dispensaries, and off-sale alcohol outlets in a large, urban low-income community of color
- Engaging Disadvantaged Communities in Targeting Tobacco-Related Health Disparities and Other Health Inequities.