Shawn Kniepp has been involved in health disparities research for fifteen years and received numerous National Institutes of Health grants to support her work and that of doctoral students. She looks at two major areas of disparities. The first area involves factors that cause disparities in mechanistic, physiological ways. An example is how chronic stress causes poor health outcomes, like blood pressure changes, in low income women.
The second area centers around women in a Welfare Transition Program. Dr. Kniepp is examining how welfare policy affects stress levels, and how stress is being managed in the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to improve the health of women who are enrolled. She followed 432 women for nine months, testing a public health nursing intervention using Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approaches. The intervention group had a high likelihood of having problems reaching long-term employment goals. Many suffered from heart disease, back pain, allergies, and other ailments that kept them from seeking or securing steady employment.