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Natalie Yarish, PhD, received NIH/NHLBI Mentored Research Scientist Development Award; currently recruiting participants

by Erica Howell

Natalie Yarish, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Community & Environmental Health, is a behavioral scientist who studies physical activity and social connection. CrossFit, marathon runners, yoga enthusiasts, and similar groups each have their communities that support an individual's sense of belonging. Dr. Yarish, who is a military spouse, is studying veteran's needs related to physical activity, social isolation, loneliness, and social connectedness as they transition to civilian life.

This study is part of an NIH/NHLBI Mentored Research Scientist Development Award, which grants $154,000 per year over the five year study. Currently in her first year, she is conducting interviews to gather qualitative data to develop a digital group-based physical activity intervention to reduce social isolation and loneliness. Her idea is to create community intervention with veterans leading programs themselves.

Dr. Yarish previously published a study which showed a 23% increased risk of cardiovascular disease among older women who report high levels of both social isolation and loneliness. This study among veterans would aim to test a group-based physical activity intervention for cardiovascular disease prevention by harnessing a sense of belonging and reduce social isolation. Findings from the study could have long-term health benefits among vulnerable populations.

Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards also include a mentoring team with people in the field, classes and training, grant workshops, and protected time. In year four of this grant she will write a larger scale grant.

Dr. Yarish is currently seeking participants: "Seeking military veterans who are transitioning or reintegrating to civilian life to participate in a 1:1 private online interview. The purpose of this 60-minute interview is to better understand reintegration and social connection. Each person will receive a $40 gift card for their time. Please contact Dr. Natalie Yarish via nyarish@odu.edu for more information."

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