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SLU Health Sciences Student Returns to Peru to Share Her Research

Last year, Saint Louis University (SLU) Health Sciences Student Julia Griffin spent six months in the impoverished community of Piura, Peru conducting research on the state of the town’s health care system. Her research, titled Cost, Quality and Access of Healthcare in Piura, Peru, earned second place in the Behavioral and Social Sciences division of SLU’s Sigma Xi Research Symposium. Griffin was eager to try to turn her research into more than just findings, though, as she returned to Peru to share what she had learned in hopes of putting the information into action.

Julia Griffin Presenting Her Research
Senior Health Sciences student Julia Griffin presenting her research in Piura, Peru.

Catch up on the initial story about Griffin’s research

Griffin worked closely with her Spanish professor and mentor Christina Garcia, Ph.D., to translate her published research manuscript and a brochure with a summary of the results to Spanish, but she still felt like she could do more.

“I realized that these resources would be most beneficial to those living in Piura. My project results had been widely recognized and appreciated at local and national conferences here in the United States, but they would most benefit and affect those in the Peru,” Griffin said. I knew I needed to go back to Piura to present my results to the parish community and Piura residents, so I applied for a second Investigative Learning Experiences Grant through the University Honors Program.”

Griffin made it back to Peru hoping to meet with local health authorities to discuss her research findings and have conversations about the perceptions of health care services patients in Piura have. She had a goal of meeting with each of her surveyed medical providers and eight study clinics and presenting them with the translated research and brochures for patients.

“I met with two doctors, one obstetrician and five nurses who work in administrative positions and provide care in various public clinics and hospitals throughout the city,” Griffin said. “These were health care leaders in government health institutions.”

In addition to sharing her findings with Peruvians, Griffin was just as interested in hearing input from these professionals about their health care system.

“After I presented the results, we had a very open discussion where they shared their thoughts and comments about the project and about the health system,” Griffin said. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to speak with these medical professionals because they are the Piura individuals working for the government health centers and understand the realities of the system every day. They are truly seeing the disparities that their patients face and have the ability to make immediate changes in their own clinics.”

Now back in the United States, Griffin has no plans of stopping her advocacy work for the people of Piura.

“I am currently working with Father Joe Uhen at the Parish Santisimo Sacramento to coordinate communication with the government health offices in Lima – Peru’s capitol,” Griffin said. “I would like to send the results to Peru’s Ministry of Health so they can see the reality of those living in Piura.”

In addition to continuing her work with the people of Piura, Griffin is working towards having her manuscript published in Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública (Pan American Journal of Public Health) with the help of her faculty mentor Health Sciences Assistant Professor Elaina Osterbur, Ph.D., and Dr. Garcia.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.