The Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya routinely received elective students from both local and international Universities. In the month of June, two elective students started their posting in the Department. The first is Jane Dai a MPH Candidate from the Yale School of Public Health who is supervised by Assoc Prof Moy Foong Ming. The second is Ethan Fan a second-year medical student from the University of Texas Southwest Medical School and a MPH candidate from the University of Texas School of Public Health. who is supervised by Prof Sanjay Rampal and Prof Victor Hoe.
Jane received funding from the Yale School of Public Health and the Yale Global Food Fellowship to conduct qualitative research on processed food consumption in working women: exploring the motivations for and contexts of food decisions regarding eating out and convenience foods, as well as characterizing cultural attitudes about nutrition and health. Her background is in biology and psychology, which she has integrated into her current program in Social and Behavioral Sciences to better understand how eating behaviour is influenced by social, cultural, economic and other factors. Ultimately, she hopes to use both qualitative and quantitative methods to study the epidemiology of changing dietary patterns, and the associated cultural legacy of these nutrition transitions.
While in the Department, she will be recruiting and collecting data for her independent research project over the 5-6 weeks from female employees at the University of Malaya. Female workers are an understudied population, and much of the current literature in eating behaviour is limited to disordered eating behaviours, so this project will step into exploring how work-life balance and cultural attitudes play a role in how working women navigate food decisions. In addition, Malaysia is a phenomenally diverse nation of peoples with different cultural, religious, and other values.
Ethan is a second-year medical student attending the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Along with his MD, he is concurrently working towards a Master of Public Health (MPH) through the University of Texas School of Public Health. He is particularly interested in the field of biostatistics and hopes to integrate his public health training into his future practice.
As a part of his MPH training, he is at the University of Malaya conducting research and joining the UM medical students for part of their community posting. Teachers are at high risk for stress due to the demands of their jobs, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Due to the many negative consequences associated with depression, anxiety, and stress, his research project consists of analyzing the effects of job content on these three psychological factors in Malaysian primary and secondary school teachers. As a part of the community posting, Ethan will be aiding on a study and intervention regarding mental health literacy in a community of urban poor residents. He aims to get a first-hand look at the public health and healthcare systems in Malaysia and to compare them to those in the US. He hopes that his experience in Malaysia will both increase his public health knowledge as well as make him more globally-minded.