Sonoran UCEDD and NAU Faculty Working with American Indian Communities to Improve Cancer Screenings for Women with IDD

Sonoran UCEDD, University of Arizona
DDNN Summer 2018


Native American Cancer Prevention logoSonoran UCEDD faculty member Julie Armin is co-leading a pilot project with Heather Williamson and Julie Baldwin at Northern Arizona University (NAU) to build research relationships with American Indian communities in Arizona in order to improve shared decision-making for cancer screenings among women with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). In the first year, Drs. Armin, Baldwin, and Williamson have worked with an Advisory Board to identify community partners (American Indian communities and/or American Indian-serving institutions) who see a need for the program in their community and who are interested in collaborating as co-researchers. In the second year, the investigators will work with their partners to assess community cancer screening needs and assets as they relate to women with IDD.


American Indian (AI) women and women with IDD are less likely to receive routine breast and cervical cancer screenings than the general population. The research team will work with AI women with IDD, their family caregivers, their health care providers, and with leaders in collaborating Native communities to culturally adapt an existing breast and cervical cancer education program for women with IDD. In doing so, Drs. Armin, Baldwin, and Williamson will build capacity to include AI women with IDD in the research process, in recognition of the importance of including individuals as partners in research efforts. The investigators’ approach aligns with the principle of self-determination, which is central to AI communities and the IDD self-advocacy movement.


Drs. Armin and Williamson have 10 years of experience working on cancer disparities and disability research, respectively. Dr. Armin is an Assistant Professor (Research) in the Department of Family & Community Medicine and is an Affiliate Member of the University of Arizona Cancer Center. Dr. Williamson is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Health Equity Research and Occupational Therapy Programs at NAU. Their co-investigator and mentor, Julie Baldwin, is the Director of NAU’s Center for Health Equity Research, and she brings 27 years of experience in community-based participatory research approaches, and has particular expertise in addressing disparities with culturally relevant and tribally led education efforts.


This project is supported by the Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention (NACP), an award by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health to the University of Arizona Cancer Center (U54CA143924) and Northern Arizona University (U54CA143925). The Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention’s goal is to eliminate cancer health disparities in Native American communities of the Southwest. The Partnership’s work involves research, training and community outreach programs in collaboration with the communities it serves. You can learn more about NACP at or


Julie Armin

Julie Armin, PhD

Julie Baldwin

Julie Baldwin, PhD

Heather Williams

Heather J. Williamson, DrPH