Buffie Longmire-Avital, Elon students present research at local conference

The associate professor of psychology presented at the UNC-Chapel Hill Minority Health Conference and published research in the Journal of College Student Psychotherapy with two Elon alumnae and one current student.

Buffie Longmire-Avital, associate professor of psychology and director of the Black Lumen Project, presented two research posters at the recent Minority Health Conference at UNC-Chapel Hill with Lumen Scholar Eukela Little ’22 and Jenna Dahl ’21.

Little presented her Lumen Prize research with a poster titled, “Strong, Black, and Selfish: Reframing the Strong Black Woman Persona to Include Self-Care Through a Tele-Health Intervention.” Little discussed her Lumen Scholar research, which was an eight-week virtual intervention that was developed using preliminary data collected in fall of 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and return for many to hybrid learning.

The Lumen and Odyssey Scholar aimed to increase mindfulness and self-contemplative behaviors, such as meditation and journaling, to cope with general stress, race-related stress and gendered-discrimination experienced by Black American collegiate women. Participants were asked to view videos featuring Black American women scholars in conversation with Little, complete weekly reflective prompts and activities designed to increase awareness of self-care and the unpacking of the Strong Black Woman Persona.

Over 20 women have completed the intervention. The women reported a clear and concise plan for integrating self-care and self-contemplative behaviors into their daily or weekly habits at the end of the intervention.

Jenna Dahl ’21 collaborated with Longmire-Avital and community partner, SEEDS of Healing, to assess and document the medicine adherence behaviors of Black American women living with a diagnosis of HIV in the deep south during the onset of the pandemic in spring 2020.

Findings from the mixed-data study were presented in a poster titled, “COVID-19 Factors of Medicine Adherence in Black Women Living with HIV.” Their findings revealed that the initial onset and stay-at-home orders did not alter adherence behavior. However, women openly discussed that their motivation to remain adherent was largely driven by a fear of contracting COVID-19 and access to medication.

Finally, there was a strong correlation between self-reported fatigue and loneliness. Findings from this study were used in a successful 2020 grant application to the Southern AIDS Coalition to secure funding to develop a social networking site for Black women living with a diagnosis of HIV, called SOH Time. The first manuscript from this data is in the final stages of development.

Longmire-Avital and Honors Fellow Jennifer Finkelstein ’19 published their second paper exploring maternal socialization around coping with discrimination and eating behaviors for Black American collegiate women. The article, “Raising Super Women…And Emotional Eaters (?):  Socialized Coping Responses to Discrimination and Eating Pathology Behaviors for Collegiate Black Women,” was recently published in the Journal of College Student Psychotherapy.

They found a strong predictive relationship between adoption of the Strong Black Woman Persona and emotional eating. Further, the young women who participated recalled receiving messages from their mothers to be strong. The article considers the maternal relationship as a critical context for understanding potential eating pathology behaviors for Black women. It also calls on university counseling centers to consider how racial discrimination and trauma may also contribute to maladaptive eating habits for Black women.