Rodlescia Sneed

Rodlescia Sneed is making a two-year commitment to engage in National Institutes of Health health disparities research in exchange for loan repayment for her graduate education. In her public health work, Sneed assesses how stress and social relationships impact health.    

August 27, 2019

Imagine getting a notice stating that you have received an award to repay half of your student loans. Rodlescia Sneed, PhD, MPH, is making a two-year commitment to engage in National Institutes of Health (NIH) health disparities research in exchange for loan repayment for her graduate education.  

Sneed is an assistant professor in the College of Human Medicine’s Division of Public Health at Michigan State University. She works as a social and health psychologist with research interests in evaluating and improving how older adults age successfully in vulnerable communities.  

In her public health work, Sneed assesses how stress and social relationships impact health. She is best known for her work with vulnerable populations of mid and late-life adults on topics such as the benefits of social engagement as well as the effects of stress and trauma. 

Through the NIH Loan Repayment Program (LRP) efforts are being made to counteract the financial pressure of student debt from an advanced degree while investing in health-related research for a healthier Nation. Because the cost of training in health-related specialties has escalated; some scientists are abandoning their research careers for higher-paying private industry jobs. 

"The Loan Repayment Program will allow me to focus my energies on research that can reduce the impact of stress and trauma on communities like Flint. I’m pleased that the NIH values this work and that it has invested in me as an emerging investigator in this field,” stated Sneed.

As a member of the Flint ReCAST team, Sneed evaluates the use of a stress and trauma intervention among grandparent caregivers in Flint, Michigan. Caring for grandchildren is frequently characterized as a stressful experience, as grandparent involvement in childcare often occurs in the context of family trauma or difficulties.   

Sneed finds that ongoing community trauma in Flint has created additional challenges for grandparent caregivers. Community poverty, violence, and 5-years of an environmental water-based lead crisis have put additional stressors on grandparents; often serving as the primary caregiver for Flint kids.  

These traumas pose a significant risk to the psychological and physical health of grandparent caregivers. To address stress and trauma in this population, Sneed and her team will evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of utilizing the Community Resiliency Model as a trauma-informed stress reduction program.  

This work will represent one of very few scientifically rigorous investigations of stress reduction interventions for grandparent caregivers. Further, its deliberate attention to the role of stress and trauma represents a critical paradigm shift in public health practice and can serve as a model for promoting stress reduction in a traumatized and vulnerable community of diverse mid and late-life adults.

About Flint ReCAST: 

Flint ReCAST, supports a trauma-informed community through a collaborative effort to enhance resiliency, behavioral health, and wellness among Flint community members through evidence-informed programming. Flint ReCAST funding is provided to the City of Flint by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.