Lycia Tramujas Vasconcellos Neumann (BCHS '19) spent the summer studying in her home country of Brazil thanks to a grant she received from the 2015–16 Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) Graduate Student Field Research Grants for her project “The Role of Community Support for Healthy Aging: A Study with Low-Income, Community-Dwelling Seniors in Brazil.”
Neumann conducted an observational cross-sectional qualitative research study in cooperation with Pastoral da Pessoa Idosa (PPI), translated “Pastoral of the Elderly,” the only national organization that supports seniors in Brazil. Founded in 2004, the organization is staffed primarily by volunteers and offers monthly social visits to seniors, mostly in low-income communities. Neumann used qualitative methods, such as focus groups and key informant interviews, to explore perceptions of community volunteers, seniors, and experts in aging across the country.
Neumann plans to present the study and its results at events such as Latin American Social and Public Policy and Latin American Studies Association conferences and Dean’s Day at Pitt Public Health. She also plans to publish an article and send a brief report to PPI for its use and dissemination in Brazil. She hopes that by bringing insight to the value of social support for healthy aging, this study’s results will aid in the development of new policies as well as health promotion programs based on social and peer support. In countries like Brazil, where culture determines that most seniors continue living with their families and in their communities as much as their health conditions allow, this study could be especially significant.