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Ryan Kouchakji

B.S. Environmental Health, Class of 2017

What was your research topic?

My undergraduate research project documented the differences in environmental public health hazards and utilized communication methods between those living in city-sanctioned encampments and those living in non-sanctioned encampments. Semi-structured question probes were used to interview local homeless populations, local agency leaders, and health care practitioners about environmental public health concerns and health communication methods.

Who did you partner with to conduct your research?

Public Health – Seattle & King County, UW DEOHS, REACH, PH- Moms & Kids Plus, and people living as homeless in both city sanctioned and non-city sanctioned encampments.

What was the geographical focus of your research?

King County, Washington

How can the findings of your research impact or inform resilience to extreme events?

Resilience during extreme events often involves strategic planning and effective modes of communication between disaster agencies and communities. We hope that this project helped to identify some useful means of communication that could be utilized by PH-S&KC in the event of an emergency.

What have you learned from working on this project? How will it inform your future work/career?

I learned more about social determinants that affect access to living healthy lives. I also learned about available communication methods in encampments that public health could utilize. For example, many city-sanctioned encampments have a “camp phone” and have regular visits from outreach agencies like REACH and PH. I hope to pursue a career in medicine so that I can serve people who have been affected by disparities in healthcare.

Related publications/accepted presentations

Kouchakji R. Emergency Preparedness and Communications Channels in Local Homeless Encampments. IAEM Bulletin. 2017; (1):36-38

Poster: Kouchakji R, Pfohman R, Busch Isaksen T. A communication needs assessment: semi-structured interviews comparing city-sanctioned and non-sanctioned encampments for people living as homeless. Poster presented at: WA State Environmental Health Association Conference and UW Public Health Symposium May 2017; Wenatchee and Seattle, WA (respectively).

Kouchakji 2017