2013 Outstanding Student Abstract Award

While a wealth of data exists regarding South Carolina’s tobacco use, a data subset among lesbian, gay bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) individuals has not been available.  Researchers from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina and the South Carolina Tobacco-Free Collaborative joined forces to develop a questionnaire to gather baseline data that will guide the development of cessation interventions and programs specifically designed for the LGBT population.

Theresa Oniffrey, a first-year graduate student at the Arnold School of Public Health, worked to support the study.  Ms. Oniffrey received the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH)’s  The award recognized the highest scoring abstract evaluated by the SCPHA Contributed Papers Committee.  She joined the Office of Public Health Practice as a graduate assistant in August of 2012 and serves on the evaluation team for South Carolina’s Community Transformation Grant.

The cross-sectional study titled, “Exploring Tobacco Use Among South Carolina’s LGBT Population,” examined tobacco use, quit attempts, nutrition, physical activity and demographics through a 16-item questionnaire.  The questionnaire was distributed at three PRIDE events in South Carolina and one in Georgia between June and October 2012.  Results from the study suggest that LGBT individuals in South Carolina are an underserved population and an important target for future cessation interventions.

Ms. Oniffrey completed her bachelor degrees in Animal Science and Zoology at North Carolina State University in 2007.  She has experience in pre-clinical oncology research and paramedicine, which has provided her with a unique perspective on disease and the harms of tobacco use.  During her time as a paramedic, she developed a passion for working with disparate populations in urban settings.

In contrast to her previous experiences, “The research and evaluation I’m involved with now, through my graduate assistantship, has been more about prevention of disease—this is new to me,” stated Ms. Oniffrey.  “It’s been enlightening to see all sides of the process from then to now, prevention versus treatment, research versus clinical.  I definitely appreciate my previous experiences, but taking a path towards public health is all encompassing.”

IMPH presented Ms. Oniffrey with a check and an additional monetary award was made by SCPHA for selection as an oral presenter at the annual meeting.

Click here to view the winning abstract: “Exploring Tobacco Use Among South Carolina’s LGBT Population”

Click here to view slides from the oral presentation.

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