Lynne C Messer

Portland State University, Portland, OR, United States

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Publications (44)157.39 Total impact

  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Racial residential segregation has been associated with preterm birth. Few studies have examined mediating pathways, in part because, with binary outcomes, indirect effects estimated from multiplicative models generally lack causal interpretation. We develop a method to estimate additive-scale natural direct and indirect effects from logistic regression. We then evaluate whether segregation operates through poor-quality built environment to affect preterm birth. To estimate natural direct and indirect effects, we derive risk differences from logistic regression coefficients. Birth records (2000-2008) for Durham, North Carolina, were linked to neighborhood-level measures of racial isolation and a composite construct of poor-quality built environment. We decomposed the total effect of racial isolation on preterm birth into direct and indirect effects. The adjusted total effect of an interquartile increase in racial isolation on preterm birth was an extra 27 preterm events per 1000 births (risk difference = 0.027 [95% confidence interval = 0.007 to 0.047]). With poor-quality built environment held at the level it would take under isolation at the 25th percentile, the direct effect of an interquartile increase in isolation was 0.022 (-0.001 to 0.042). Poor-quality built environment accounted for 35% (11% to 65%) of the total effect. Our methodology facilitates the estimation of additive-scale natural effects with binary outcomes. In this study, the total effect of racial segregation on preterm birth was partially mediated by poor-quality built environment.
    Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 03/2014; · 5.51 Impact Factor
  • Matthew Toth, Lynne C Messer, E Byrd Quinlivan
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract HIV-infected women of color (WOC) face particular barriers to accessing HIV medical care. To understand the impact of physical symptoms, social support, and self-determination on barriers to care, we interviewed HIV-infected women of color. HIV-infected WOC (N=141), attending an academic infectious disease clinic for HIV care in North Carolina, completed the Barriers to Care scale and were categorized as reporting a history of low (less than four of eleven barriers) or high (five or more) barriers to care. Binomial regression was used to estimate prevalence ratios and risk differences of reported barriers to care and its correlates such as depression, anxiety, illness-severity, psychological abuse, social support, treatment-specific social support, and self-determination (autonomy, relatedness, competency). A lower risk of reporting five or more barriers to care was associated with higher levels of autonomy (PR=0.93, 95% CI: 0.89, 0.96), relatedness (PR=0.92, 95% CI: 0.89, 0.94), competency (PR=0.93, 95% CI: 0.87, 0.98), and social support (PR=0.24, 95% CI: 0.81, 0.81). Depression, illness severity, and psychological abuse were associated with a greater risk of having five or more barriers to care. There are multiple social and psychological factors that contribute to perceived barriers to HIV care among WOC in the southeastern USA. Interventions that promote social support and increase individual self-determination have the potential to improve access to HIV care for WOC.
    AIDS patient care and STDs 10/2013; · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Self-determination theory examines the needs of people adopting new behaviors but has not been applied to the adoption of HIV healthcare behaviors. The current study applied self-determination theory to descriptions of healthcare behaviors adopted by ethnic minority women after an HIV diagnosis. Women of color were asked to describe their experiences with HIV testing, entry, and engagement-in-care in qualitative interviews and focus groups. Participants were mostly African-American (88%), over 40 years old (70%), had been diagnosed for more than 6 years (87%) and had disclosed their HIV infection to more than 3 people (73%). Women described unmet self-determination needs at different time points along the HIV Continuum of Care. Women experienced a significant loss of autonomy at the time of HIV diagnosis. Meeting competency and relatedness needs assisted women in entry and engagement-in-care. However, re-establishing autonomy was a key element for long-term engagement-in-care. Interventions that satisfy these needs at the optimal time point in care could improve diagnosis, entry-to-care, and retention-in-care for women living with HIV.
    AIDS patient care and STDs 07/2013; 27(7):408-15. · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Women of color (WOC) are at increased risk of dying from HIV/AIDS, a disparity that may be partially explained by the care barriers they face. Based in a health care disparity model and the socio-ecological framework, the objective of this study was to identify the barriers and facilitators to HIV care at three points along the HIV continuum: HIV testing, entry/early care, and engagement. Two focus groups (n=11 women) and 19 semi-structured interviews were conducted with HIV-positive WOC in an academic medical setting in North Carolina. Content was analyzed and interpreted. We found barriers and facilitators to be present at multiple levels of the ecological framework, including personal-, provider-, clinic-, and community-levels. The barriers reported by women were aligned with the racial health care disparity model constructs and varied by stage of HIV. Identifying the salient barriers and facilitators at multiple ecological levels along the HIV care continuum may inform intervention development.
    AIDS patient care and STDs 07/2013; 27(7):398-407. · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: A growing corpus of research focuses on assessing the quality of the local built environment and also examining the relationship between the built environment and health outcomes and indicators in communities. However, there is a lack of research presenting a highly resolved, systematic, and comprehensive spatial approach to assessing the built environment over a large geographic extent. In this paper, we contribute to the built environment literature by describing a tool used to assess the residential built environment at the tax parcel-level, as well as a methodology for summarizing the data into meaningful indices for linkages with health data. METHODS: A database containing residential built environment variables was constructed using the existing body of literature, as well as input from local community partners. During the summer of 2008, a team of trained assessors conducted an on-foot, curb-side assessment of approximately 17,000 tax parcels in Durham, North Carolina, evaluating the built environment on over 80 variables using handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. The exercise was repeated again in the summer of 2011 over a larger geographic area that included roughly 30,700 tax parcels; summary data presented here are from the 2008 assessment. RESULTS: Built environment data were combined with Durham crime data and tax assessor data in order to construct seven built environment indices. These indices were aggregated to US Census blocks, as well as to primary adjacency communities (PACs) and secondary adjacency communities (SACs) which better described the larger neighborhood context experienced by local residents. Results were disseminated to community members, public health professionals, and government officials. CONCLUSIONS: The assessment tool described is both easily-replicable and comprehensive in design. Furthermore, our construction of PACs and SACs introduces a novel concept to approximate varying scales of community and describe the built environment at those scales. Our collaboration with community partners at all stages of the tool development, data collection, and dissemination of results provides a model for engaging the community in an active research program.
    International Journal of Health Geographics 10/2012; 11(1):46. · 2.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The determinants that underlie a healthy or unhealthy pregnancy are complex and not well understood. We assess the relationship between the built environment and maternal psychosocial status using directly observed residential neighborhood characteristics (housing damage, property disorder, tenure status, vacancy, security measures, violent crime, and nuisances) and a wide range of psychosocial attributes (interpersonal support evaluation list, self-efficacy, John Henryism active coping, negative partner support, Perceived Stress Scale, perceived racism, Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression) on a pregnant cohort of women living in the urban core of Durham, NC, USA. We found some associations between built environment characteristic and psychosocial health varied by exposure categorization approach, while others (residence in environments with more rental property is associated with higher reported active coping and negative partner support) were consistent across exposure categorizations. This study outlines specific neighborhood characteristics that are modifiable risk markers and therefore important targets for increased research and public health intervention.
    Journal of Urban Health 08/2012; · 1.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Regional Health Information Integration Project (RHIIP) has developed the Carolina HIV Information Cooperative regional health information organization (CHIC RHIO). The CHIC RHIO was implemented to improve patient care and health outcomes by enhancing communication among geographically disconnected networks of HIV care providers in rural North Carolina. CHIC RHIO comprises one medical clinic and five AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) serving clients in eight rural counties. Communication among the CHIC RHIO members is facilitated by CAREWare software. The RHIIP team assessed organizational readiness to change, facilitated relationship-building for CHIC RHIO, created the CHIC RHIO and used both qualitative and quantitative approaches to evaluate the process-related effects of implementing a data-sharing intervention. We found the CHIC RHIO member organizations were ready to engage in the IT intervention prior to its implementation, which most likely contributed to its successful adoption. The qualitative findings indicate that CHIC RHIO members personally benefited - and perceived their clients benefited - from participation in the information exchange. The quantitative results echoed the qualitative findings; following the CHIC RHIO intervention, quality improvements were noted in the ASO and medical clinic relationships, information exchange, and perceived level of patient care. Furthermore, hopes for what data sharing would accomplish were overly high at the beginning of the project, thus requiring a recalibration of expectations as the project came to a close. Innovative strategies for health information exchange can be implemented in rural communities to increase communication among providers. With this increased communication comes the potential for improved health outcomes and, in turn, healthier communities.
    International Journal of Medical Informatics 08/2012; 81(10):e46-55. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this research was to assess the consistency of associations between neighborhood characteristics and pregnancy-related behaviors and outcomes across four nested neighborhood boundaries using race-stratified fixed-slope random-intercept multilevel logistic models. High incivilities was associated with increased smoking, inadequate weight gain and pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), while walkability was associated with decreased smoking and PIH for white women across all neighborhood definitions. For African American women, high incivilities was associated with increased smoking and inadequate gestational weight gain, while more walkable neighborhoods appeared protective against smoking and inadequate weight gain in all but the smallest neighborhoods. Associations with neighborhood attributes were similar in effect size across geographies, but less precise as neighborhoods became smaller.
    Health & Place 04/2012; 18(4):805-13. · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The built environment, a key component of environmental health, may be an important contributor to health disparities, particularly for reproductive health outcomes. In this study we investigated the relationship between seven indices of residential built environment quality and adverse reproductive outcomes for the City of Durham, North Carolina (USA). We surveyed approximately 17,000 residential tax parcels in central Durham, assessing > 50 individual variables on each. These data, collected using direct observation, were combined with tax assessor, public safety, and U.S. Census data to construct seven indices representing important domains of the residential built environment: housing damage, property disorder, security measures, tenure (owner or renter occupied), vacancy, crime count, and nuisance count. Fixed-slope random-intercept multilevel models estimated the association between the residential built environment and five adverse birth outcomes. Models were adjusted for maternal characteristics and clustered at the primary adjacency community unit, defined as the index block, plus all adjacent blocks that share any portion of a line segment (block boundary) or vertex. Five built environment indices (housing damage, property disorder, tenure, vacancy, and nuisance count) were associated with each of the five outcomes in the unadjusted context: preterm birth, small for gestational age (SGA), low birth weight (LBW), continuous birth weight, and birth weight percentile for gestational age (BWPGA; sex-specific birth weight distributions for infants delivered at each gestational age using National Center for Health Statistics referent births for 2000-2004). However, some estimates were attenuated after adjustment. In models adjusted for individual-level covariates, housing damage remained statistically significantly associated with SGA, birth weight, and BWPGA. This work suggests a real and meaningful relationship between the quality of the residential built environment and birth outcomes, which we argue are a good measure of general community health.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 12/2011; 120(3):471-7. · 7.26 Impact Factor
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    Richard David, Lynne Messer
    Maternal and Child Health Journal 09/2011; 15 Suppl 1:S1-3. · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Women residing in neighborhoods of low socioeconomic status are more likely to experience adverse reproductive outcomes; however, few studies explore which specific neighborhood features are associated with poor maternal health behaviors and pregnancy outcomes. Based upon our conceptual model, directly observed street-level data from four North Carolina US counties were used to create five neighborhood indices: physical incivilities (neighborhood degradation), social spaces (public space for socializing), walkability (walkable neighborhoods), borders (property boundaries), and arterial features (traffic safety). Singleton birth records (2001-2005) were obtained from the North Carolina State Center for Vital Statistics and maternal health behavior information (smoking, inadequate or excessive weight gain) and pregnancy outcomes (pregnancy-induced hypertension/pre-eclampsia, low birthweight, preterm birth) were abstracted. Race-stratified random effect models were used to estimate associations between neighborhood indices and women's reproductive behaviors and outcomes. In adjusted models, higher amounts of physical incivilities were positively associated with maternal smoking and inadequate weight gain, while walkability was associated with lower odds of these maternal health behaviors. Social spaces were also associated with inadequate weight gain during pregnancy. Among pregnancy outcomes, high levels of physical incivilities were consistently associated with all adverse pregnancy outcomes, and high levels of walkability were inversely associated with pregnancy-induced hypertension and preterm birth for Non-Hispanic white women only. None of the indices were associated with adverse birth outcomes for Non-Hispanic black women. In conclusion, certain neighborhood conditions were associated with maternal health behaviors and pregnancy outcomes.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 08/2011; 73(9):1302-11. · 2.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We examined whether the risk of premature mortality associated with living in socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods varies according to the health status of individuals. Community-dwelling adults (n = 566,402; age = 50-71 years) in 6 US states and 2 metropolitan areas participated in the ongoing prospective National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study, which began in 1995. We used baseline data for 565,679 participants on health behaviors, self-rated health status, and medical history, collected by mailed questionnaires. Participants were linked to 2000 census data for an index of census tract socioeconomic deprivation. The main outcome was all-cause mortality ascertained through 2006. In adjusted survival analyses of persons in good-to-excellent health at baseline, risk of mortality increased with increasing levels of census tract socioeconomic deprivation. Neighborhood socioeconomic mortality disparities among persons in fair-to-poor health were not statistically significant after adjustment for demographic characteristics, educational achievement, lifestyle, and medical conditions. Neighborhood socioeconomic inequalities lead to large disparities in risk of premature mortality among healthy US adults but not among those in poor health.
    American Journal of Public Health 08/2011; 102(4):680-8. · 3.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An environmental quality index (EQI) for all counties in the United States is under development to explore the relationship between environmental insults and human health. The EQI is potentially useful for investigators researching health disparities to account for other concurrent environmental conditions. This article focused on the identification and assessment of data sources used in developing the EQI. Data source strengths, limitations, and utility were addressed. Five domains were identified that contribute to environmental quality: air, water, land, built, and sociodemographic environments. An inventory of possible data sources was created. Data sources were evaluated for appropriate spatial and temporal coverage and data quality. The overall data inventory identified multiple data sources for each domain. From the inventory (187 sources, 617 records), the air, water, land, built environment, and sociodemographic domains retained 2, 9, 7, 4, and 2 data sources for inclusion in the EQI, respectively. However, differences in data quality, geographic coverage, and data availability existed between the domains. The data sources identified for use in the EQI may be useful to researchers, advocates, and communities to explore specific environmental quality questions.
    American Journal of Public Health 08/2011; 101 Suppl 1:S277-85. · 3.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies of black-white disparities in perinatal outcomes have generally not controlled for both observed and unobserved neighborhood inequalities with models that compare only black and white women living in the same neighborhoods. Using 1999-2001 birth certificate data from 2 counties in North Carolina, the authors employed a hybrid fixed-effects approach to assess the total contribution of neighborhood factors to both absolute and relative racial disparities in low birth weight, preterm birth (PTB), and smallness for gestational age at term. Neighborhood factors made a notable contribution to racial disparities for PTB only, accounting for an additional 15% reduction in crude disparities beyond individual sociodemographic characteristics, which accounted for approximately 40% of racial disparities. The neighborhood contribution was greater for moderate PTB (32-36 weeks' gestation) than for very PTB (<32 weeks' gestation). A neighborhood deprivation index accounted for a smaller percentage of PTB disparities than the hybrid fixed-effects estimates, which suggests that measured socioeconomic deprivation does not account for all health-relevant neighborhood inequalities. Contemporaneous individual-level sociodemographic and neighborhood factors together explained one- to two-thirds of perinatal disparities. To fully explain racial disparities in perinatal outcomes, evaluation of other differential exposures (e.g., racism or wealth) and neighborhood factors across the life course may be necessary.
    American journal of epidemiology 07/2011; 174(6):744-52. · 5.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The care and protection of the estimated 143,000,000 orphaned and abandoned children (OAC) worldwide is of great importance to global policy makers and child service providers in low and middle income countries (LMICs), yet little is known about rates of child labour among OAC, what child and caregiver characteristics predict child engagement in work and labour, or when such work infers with schooling. This study examines rates and correlates of child labour among OAC and associations of child labour with schooling in a cohort of OAC in 5 LMICs. The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) study employed a two-stage random sampling survey methodology to identify 1480 single and double orphans and children abandoned by both parents ages 6-12 living in family settings in five LMICs: Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, and Tanzania. Regression models examined child and caregiver associations with: any work versus no work; and with working <21, 21-27, and 28+ hours during the past week, and child labour (UNICEF definition). The majority of OAC (60.7%) engaged in work during the past week, and of those who worked, 17.8% (10.5% of the total sample) worked 28 or more hours. More than one-fifth (21.9%; 13% of the total sample) met UNICEF's child labour definition. Female OAC and those in good health had increased odds of working. OAC living in rural areas, lower household wealth and caregivers not earning an income were associated with increased child labour. Child labour, but not working fewer than 28 hours per week, was associated with decreased school attendance. One in seven OAC in this study were reported to be engaged in child labour. Policy makers and social service providers need to pay close attention to the demands being placed on female OAC, particularly in rural areas and poor households with limited income sources. Programs to promote OAC school attendance may need to focus on the needs of families as well as the OAC.
    BMC International Health and Human Rights 01/2011; 11:1. · 1.44 Impact Factor
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    Lynne C Messer, Jay S Kaufman
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    ABSTRACT: Weathering-the cumulative burden of adverse psychosocial and economic circumstances on the bodies of minority women-has been repeatedly described in epidemiologic studies. The most common application has been the documentation of rapidly increasing risks of adverse birth outcomes as African-American women age. Previous work has been based largely on cross-sectional data that aggregate women across a variety of socioeconomic circumstances. When more specific information about women's life-course socioeconomic status is taken into account, however, heterogeneity in the weathering experience of African-American women becomes more readily apparent. Adverse birth outcome risk trajectories with advancing age for African-American women who reside in wealthier neighborhoods look much more similar to those of white women. The accompanying article by Love et al. (Am J Epidemiol. 2010;172(2):127-134) provides a more nuanced investigation of the social conditions that contribute to the weathering of African-American women and points to the critical role played by social and economic conditions over the life course in producing adverse birth outcome disparities.
    American journal of epidemiology 07/2010; 172(2):135-7; discussion 138-9. · 5.59 Impact Factor
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    Katrina F Trivers, Lynne C Messer, Jay S Kaufman
    CancerSpectrum Knowledge Environment 02/2010; 102(4):278-9; author reply 280-2. · 14.07 Impact Factor
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    Lynne C Messer, J Michael Oakes, Susan Mason
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    ABSTRACT: Confounding associated with social stratification or other selection processes has been called structural confounding. In the presence of structural confounding, certain covariate strata will contain only subjects who could never be exposed, a violation of the positivity or experimental treatment effect assumption. Thus, structural confounding can prohibit the exchangeability necessary for meaningful causal contrasts across levels of exposure. The authors explored the presence and magnitude of structural confounding by estimating the independent effects of neighborhood deprivation and neighborhood racial composition (segregation) on rates of preterm birth in Wake and Durham counties, North Carolina (1999-2001). Tabular analyses and random-intercept fixed-slope multilevel logistic models portrayed different structural realities in these counties. The multilevel modeling results suggested some nonsignificant effect of residence in tracts with high levels of socioeconomic deprivation or racial residential segregation on adjusted odds of preterm birth for white and black women living in these counties, and the confidence limit ratios indicated fairly consistent levels of precision around the estimates. The results of the tabular analysis, however, suggested that many of these regression modeling findings were off-support and based on no actual data. The implications for statistical and public health inference, in the presence of no data, are considered.
    American journal of epidemiology 02/2010; 171(6):664-73. · 5.59 Impact Factor
  • J Michael Oakes, Lynne C Messer, Susan Mason
    American journal of epidemiology 02/2010; · 5.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The etiology of orofacial clefts is complex and relatively unknown. Variation in cleft lip with or without palate (CLP) and cleft palate alone (CP) was examined in Texas across urban-rural residence (1999 to 2003). Cases came from the Texas Birth Defects Registry (1,949 CLP and 1,054 CP) and denominator data came from vital records (254 counties; 1,827,317 live births). Variation in maternal residence was measured using four classification schemes: Rural Urban Continuum Codes, Urban Influence Codes, percentage of county in cropland, and Rural Urban Commuting Areas. Poisson regression was used to calculate rate ratios, adjusted for infant sex, plurality, gestational age, maternal parity, age, race/ethnicity, and education. Compared to the most urban referent category, living in more rural areas was associated with an increased adjusted risk of CLP. For example, the Rural-Urban Continuum Codes demonstrated elevated risks for CLP in "thinly populated areas" compared to "metropolitan-urban areas" (adjusted prevalence ratio = 1.9; 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.2-2.8); CP was not similarly associated. Percentage of county cropland was not consistently associated with any outcome. The association patterns between non-urban residence and risk of CLP, except for percentage of cropland, suggests a constellation of exposures that may differ across urban-rural residence.
    Annals of epidemiology 01/2010; 20(1):32-9. · 2.95 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

586 Citations
157.39 Total Impact Points


  • 2012–2013
    • Portland State University
      • School of Community Health
      Portland, OR, United States
  • 2008–2012
    • Duke University
      • Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research
      Durham, NC, United States
    • St. Michael's Hospital
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2011
    • Cook County Hospital
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2008–2011
    • United States Environmental Protection Agency
      • Office of Research and Development
      Washington, D. C., DC, United States
  • 2010
    • Duke University Medical Center
      • Duke Global Health Institute
      Durham, NC, United States
    • Institute for Health Policy Solutions
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States
  • 2006–2010
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • • Department of Epidemiology
      • • Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
      Chapel Hill, NC, United States
  • 2009
    • University of Minnesota Duluth
      Duluth, Minnesota, United States
  • 2007
    • University of California, San Francisco
      • Division of Prevention Science
      San Francisco, CA, United States