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Maria De Jesus Associate Professor School of International Service

Additional Positions at AU
Affiliate Faculty at the Center on Health, Risk, and Society
Faculty Fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Center
PhD, Boston College
MA, Boston College
BA, McGill University

Languages Spoken
English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Dr. Maria De Jesus brings to AU a wealth of research and teaching experiences in the area of health disparities, a critical area of focus in interstate and transnational relations. Her research examines the role of cross-cultural health communication as a mechanism to eliminate global and domestic health disparities. As globalization and migration have created a demographic imperative for the development of effective health communication strategies and technologies, her scholarship responds to the world-wide interest in the health of members of immigrant, refugee, and diaspora communities and pointedly connects health to the key dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, class, culture, religion, immigration, migration, communication, and inequalities. Her overarching goal is to generate knowledge particularly on underrepresented populations that can then inform health practice and policy. Prior to her appointment at AU, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Center for Community-based Research, where she served as co-investigator on several NIH-funded health disparities research studies. She also taught at Boston University and Boston College. She was recently awarded a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to examine the application of technology in disseminating m-Health educational messages and to reduce disparities by addressing socio-economic, literacy, access, and psycho-social barriers among underserved Latina populations. In addition, she was awarded a grant from the District of Columbia Developmental Center for AIDS Research to conduct a community-based study that examines and compares the culture-specific HIV and HIV testing perceptions and communication norms of East African-born and African American women in Washington, DC, who are disproportionately affected by HIV. She currently teaches courses on health communication across borders, global health, and cross-cultural communication.
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Partnerships & Affiliations

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

  • De Jesus. M. (2013). The impact of mass media health communication on health decision-making and medical advice-seeking behavior of U.S. Hispanic population. Health Communication, 28(5):525-529.
  • De Jesus, M. & Xiao, C. (2013). Cross-border health care utilization among the Hispanic population in the United States:implications for closing the health care access gap. Ethnicity & Health, 18(3):297-314.
  • Allen, J.D., De Jesus, M. et al. (2012). Decision-making about the HPV vaccine among ethnically diverse parents:implications for health communication. Journal of Oncology:1-14.
  • Quintilliani, L., De Jesus, M., & Wallington, S.F. (2011). The impact of student diversity on interest, design, and promotion of web-based tailored nutrition and physical activity programs for community colleges. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 43(5): 379-384.
  • De Jesus, M. et al. (2010). Factors associated with colorectal cancer screening among a low-income, multiethnic, highly insured population: Does provider's understanding of the patient's social context matter? Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 87(2):236-243.
  • De Jesus, M. et al. (2010). Associations between perceived social environment and neighborhood safety: health implications. Health & Place, 16(5):1007-1013.
  • De Jesus, M. (2010). Institutional barriers and strategies to health promotion: perspectives and experiences of Cape Verdean women health promoters. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 12(3):397-407.
  • De Jesus, M. et al. (2009). Actual versus preferred sources of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) information among Black, White, and Hispanic parents: implications for health care providers and parent education. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine: The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network, 163:1066-1069.
  • De Jesus, M. (2009). Mutuality at the center: Health promotion with Cape Verdean immigrant women. Ethnicity & Health, 14(1):45-59.
  • De Jesus, M. (2009). The importance of social context in understanding and promoting low-income immigrant women's health. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved: THe Johns Hopkins University Press, 20(1):90-97.
  • De Jesus, M. (2007). HIV/AIDS and immigrant Cape Verdean women: Contextualized perspectives of Cape Verdean community advocates. American Journal of Community Psychology, 39(1-2):121-131. 

AU Expert

Area of Expertise

Health inequalities; cross-cultural communication and health promotion

Additional Information

Maria De Jesus brings to AU a wealth of research and teaching experiences in the area of health inequalities, with a particular focus on cross-cultural communication and health promotion. While serving as a Yerby post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Center for Community-based Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, she served as coinvestigator on several NIH-funded cancer disparities research studies examining how ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and migration status interact to affect health outcomes. Among other recent awards and honors, De Jesus received the Davis Putter Grant in 2008 for activist scholarship that contributes to the elimination of social and health disparities. Her dissertation, "Ethnic Community Health Promotion and Well-being: Relational and Cultural Praxis of Cape Verdean Women Health Advocates," resulted from her research on developing a health promotion model in which community health workers recognized and acted on the importance of cross-cultural communication and relationship building in their work. Prior to joining AU, De Jesus taught at Boston University and Boston College, where she received her PhD in applied developmental psychology and an MA in counseling psychology.

For the Media

To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

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