By Janell Smith
“I am motivated by my desire to contribute to the elimination of health and healthcare disparities,” Giscombe said.
“My goal is to be an ambassador for mental health so that all people have access to high-quality mental health.”
Giscombe’s current research, which ranges from an emphasis on the Superwoman Schema to community-based research on substance abuse relapse prevention, aims to fight the siloing of biological, mental and emotional aspects of health. Giscombe’s research has proven that the intersectionality between these three factors are important. Her findings from the Superwoman Schema, which studies stress and obesity in African-American women, have been cited on the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Fact Sheet on Stress and Health Disparities.
“Psychological stress is a major contributor to health behaviors and physical processes that lead to undesirable health conditions and ultimately influence an individual’s quality of life.
“I am dedicated to partnering with communities, families and individuals to facilitate holistic, culturally-relevant and sustainable strategies to produce optimal health.”
But, Giscombe isn’t the only hero in this fight. She incorporates students and the community in her studies. Giscombe has designed community-based training opportunities for nursing students, providing multi-level benefits to underserved groups, patients, healthcare providers and health researchers in North Carolina.
“I want to develop students who are dedicated and committed to caring for those who are underserved and underrepresented, as well as all people who need quality healthcare,” she said.
Giscombe also has a robust relationship with Healing with CAARE, Inc., a Durham-based health clinic and wellness center that serves people at-risk, empowers the community through preventive health education and counseling, and provides decent, affordable low-income housing.
Giscombe has worked closely with CAARE’s founder and executive director, Dr. Sharon Elliot-Bynum, creating CAARE’s mental health services program, training health-profession students in community-based approaches to health and developing and leading the Inter-professional Leadership Institute for Mental Health Equity. She is developing the institute through an award she received after being named a 2015 Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Macy Faculty Scholar. In addition, Giscombe was selected to serve on the APA Taskforce for Stress and Health Disparities.
During her time as a Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar, Giscombe has strengthened relationships with other community partners in Wake and Warren counties. She’s also reinforced existing relationships with her alma maters: the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) and North Carolina Central University (NCCU). Through these relationships, she encourages a pipeline of students interested in health professions education.
“I am committed to an academic career that enables me to engage in research, practice and the education of future health professionals to eliminate health disparities and improve the overall health of our population,” Giscombe said.
“But I love to serve because I live to help others and give back. It makes life meaningful. My parents, grandparents and previous educational experiences at NCSSM and NCCU emphasized the importance of service.
“Now as a Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar, this service is being supported as well as enhanced by supporting the ways in which service can be integrated with scholarly endeavors.”
Read more about Cheryl Giscombe in the University Gazette.