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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
Degrees
PhD, Boston College; MA, Boston College; BA, McGill University

Languages Spoken
English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Bio
Dr. Maria De Jesus brings to AU a wealth of research and teaching experiences in the area of health inequalities, 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 health inequalities. 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 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 Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Center for Community-based Research, where she served as co-investigator on several NIH-funded cancer disparities research studies. She also taught at Boston University and Boston College. At AU, she was 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.
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

  • De Jesus, M., Taylor, J., Maine, C., & Nalls, P. (2016). A one-size-fits-all HIV prevention and education approach?: Interpreting divergent HIV risk perceptions between African American and East African immigrant women in Washington, DC using the proximate-determinants conceptual framework. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 43(2): 78-83. 
  • De Jesus, M. (2016). How religiosity shapes health perceptions and behaviors of Latina immigrants: Is it an enabling or prohibitive factor? Psychology, Health, and Medicine, 21(1): 128-133. 
  • Palazzolo, S., Yamanis, T., De Jesus, M., Maguire-Marshall, M., & Barker, S. (2015). Documentation status as a contextual determinant of HIV risk among young transgender Latinas. LGBT Health, 3(2): 132-138. 
  • De Jesus, M., Carrete, C., Maine, C., & Nalls, P. (2015). Attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors toward HIV testing among African American and East African immigrant women in Washington, D.C.: Implications for targeted HIV testing promotion and communication strategies. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 91:8 569-575. 
  • De Jesus, M., Carrete, C., Maine, C., & Nalls, P. (2015). ‘Getting tested is almost like going to Salem witch trials’: Discordant discourses between western public health messages and sociocultural expectations surrounding HIV testing among East African immigrant women. AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, 27(5): 604-611
  • De Jesus, M. & Miller, E.B. (2015). Examining breast cancer screening barriers among Central American and Mexican immigrant women:Fatalistic beliefs or structural factors? Health Care for Women International, 36(5): 593-607. 
  • De Jesus, M. & Xiao, C. (2014). Predicting health care utilization among Latinos: Health locus of control beliefs or access factors? Health Education & Behavior, 41(4): 423-430
  • Greaney, M.L., De Jesus, M. et al. (2014). Designing audience-centered interactive voice response messages to promote cancer screenings among low-income Latinas. Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy, 11:230-213. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. (2012). Predicting Internet use as a source of health information: a “language divide” among the Hispanic population in the United States. Policy and Internet, 4(2): 1-11. 
  • De Jesus, M., Puleo, E., Shelton, R.C., & Emmons, K.M. (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., Shelton, R., Puleo, E., & Emmons, K. (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): 398-407. 
  • De Jesus, M., Parast, L., Shelton, R.C., Kokkinogenis, K., Othus, M., Li, Y., & Allen, J.D. (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(11): 1066-1067. 
  • 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.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

Selected Research:

  • AU International Travel Award (2016-2017)

  • AU International Travel Award (2013-2014)
  • SIS Conference Travel Award (2015-2016)
  • Best research poster, “Moving Immigrant Families Out of Homelessness”: Faculty/student community-based research collaboration with DC Doors, a non-profit agency (2015)

Selected Teaching:

  • William Cromwell SIS Award for Outstanding Teaching (2015)
  • Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning (CTRL) Teaching with Research

    Award (2014)  

 

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Principal Investigator, , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Academic-Community Research Partnership with Nueva Vida, (2014-2016), “The Role of Mobile Health (m-Health) Technology and Patient Navigators in Breast Cancer Prevention Among Hispanic Women”
  • Principal Investigator, DC Developmental Center for AIDS Research (DC D-CFAR), National Institutes of Health, Academic-Community Research Partnership with DC-based organization, The Women’s Collective(2012-2013), “HIV-Related Perceptions, Barriers and Facilitators to HIV Testing, and Communication Norms Among East African Immigrant and African American Women in Washington, DC” 
  • Principal Investigator, Office of the Provost’s Competitive Intramural Faculty Research Support Grant, American University, (2015-2016), “Impact of Social & Economic Conditions on Health, Healthcare Access, & Migration among Mexicans & Central Americans in Urban Contexts
  • Co-Investigator, (with Michael Bader, PI, College of Arts and Sciences, Sociology, American University), Office of the Provost’s Competitive Intramural Faculty Research Support Grant, American University, (2015-2016), “DC Area Survey Pilot Study of Latino Immigrant and Global Neighborhoods” 
  • Co-Investigator (with Nina Yamanis, PI, School of International Service Competitive Intramural Collaborative Research Award, American University, Academic-Community Research Partnership with DC-based clinic, La Clinica del Pueblo, (2012-2013), “Identifying HIV Prevention Strategies for Latino Sexual Minority Young Men Living in DC”  
  • Principal Investigator, Dean’s Competitive Intramural Summer Research Award, Academic-Community Research Partnership with DC-based organization, The Women’s Collective, (2012), “Feasibility Study: HIV-Related Perceptions, Barriers, and Facilitators to HIV Testing, and HIV-Related Communication Norms Among East African Immigrant and African American Women in Washington, DC
  • Principal Investigator, Office of the Provost’s Competitive Intramural Faculty Research Support Grant, American University, (2011-2012), “Barriers and Facilitators Related to Cancer Prevention and e-Health Communication Strategy Among Hispanic Women”

AU Experts

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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