Guillot-Wright, Davis launch new fishermen research in Louisiana
HOUSTON (Jan. 23, 2024) – Shannon Guillot-Wright, PhD, an associate professor with the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and affiliated faculty with the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (SWCOEH) and the Center for Health Equity at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health, visited Louisiana in October to examine risk factors associated with injury among fishermen.
Guillot-Wright, Lacy Davis - Senior Program Manager, and Bibiana Toro Figueira - Research Coordinator at UTHealth Houston, made the week-long trip to Louisiana with the goal of examining existing risk factors through the lens of social determinants of health.
“Our research could not happen without a strong team who understand and value social justice,” Guillot-Wright said. “Lacy Davis, Bibiana Toro Figueira, Nhu Nguyen, CucHuyen (Cecile) Roberts, and Cuc Hoa Trieu are the backbone to this work and I’m incredibly grateful and lucky that they’re part of our team.”
“We continue to find that shrimp fishermen, mostly aging Vietnamese men, are in desperate need of basic health care. This includes a lack of access to primary care services, language barriers, and lack of financial support. They were very open and excited about the idea of a free clinic and were ready for it to start.”
Guillot-Wright, Davis, and Toro Figueira will return to Louisiana in March to conduct more interviews with local partners and clinics. “Our results will help inform future interventions, such as the best way to implement a free mobile health clinic in rural areas with an under-reached population,” Guillot-Wright said.
The research is part of a $660K grant awarded to Guillot-Wright and her team from the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention, and Education and CDC/NIOSH, “Addressing Health Disparities among Commercial Fishermen by Implementing a Community-based Intervention.”
“It’s so important to see firsthand what our fishermen's lives are like on a daily basis,” Guillot-Wright and Davis said. “Until you physically go to the docks, shake the fishermen’s hands, and listen to their stories you really can’t understand the population and the health disparities they’re dealing with day-in and day-out. Through using community-based participatory methods, we are able to really dig deep and follow the conversation to what the fishermen need. Also, through our amazing Vietnamese community health specialists, we get a glimpse into the culture that we would not be able to get coming in as outsiders.”
The study began with the Docside Clinic in Galveston, Texas, which Guillot-Wright launched after hearing from fishermen that what they needed most was primary care access. The one-time event to connect fishermen to primary care has grown to monthly visits and interactions with nearly 300 fishermen. Guillot-Wright believes a similar clinic could be launched in the Pelican State.
“Yes, but it will look different than it does in our Texas location because each place has their own unique characteristics. Although the culture on the docks can be different in Louisiana, our results have been somewhat similar as what we’ve found in Texas, such as a need for healthcare, language & financial barriers, access to transportation, and a lack of health insurance and housing. We have made amazing partnerships in Louisiana, and we look forward to working together this year.”
The SWCOEH provides graduate-level training opportunities for occupational and environmental health professionals through our industrial hygiene, occupational and environmental medicine, occupational epidemiology, and Total Worker Health® programs.