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Rodney C. Haring, PhD, L-MSW

Assistant Professor
Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2010
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio:
    Childhood Obesity
  • Project Name:
    Childhood obesity interventions and their commonalities with oral health disparity interventions for use in Native American societies: A meta-analysis using mixed methodologies
  • The proposed study will focus on childhood related obesity interventions relevant to Native American children, their families, and communities. The project will investigate the relationship between childhood obesity and oral health disparities interventions that target Native American communities. Ultimately, the findings from the study will inform the development of evidence-based, culturally appropriate intervention frameworks for Native peoples and other ethnic minority populations that focus on childhood obesity and oral health disparities. The study will employ a mixed-method approach that includes a systematic review and secondary data analysis. Grounded Theory Methodology will be used to analyze intervention commonalities for inclusion in the study. Key deliverables include presentations at national conferences, submission of two manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals, and an intervention template for RWJF and other interested tribal entities.
  • Professional Bio

    Rodney C. Haring, PhD, L-MSW is founder of One Feather Consulting, LLC and is research faculty at the Native American Research and Training Center, University of Arizona. Dr. Haring is an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians and resides on the Cattaraugus Territory. He holds a doctoral degree in social work from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. He is also the incoming co-chair of the Native Research Network and a New York State-licensed master of social work. He has evaluation and research experience from Harvard Medical School, the Research Institute on Addictions, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Stony Brook, and in the private sector. He recently coauthored a book chapter titled “Reflections on Ethical Issues in Research with Aboriginal Peoples.” Dr. Haring has presented at numerous conferences worldwide on the issues of health disparities in Indian Country. He is was the recipient of the Seneca Nation of Indians Professional Scholarship, the Chief Freeman Johnson Scholar Award and is an American Indian Graduate Center fellow. 

    Project Description

    The project has been developed to expand the diversity of perspectives that inform RWJF programming.  The project is further designed to help meet staff needs as it relates to data analysis in the topic area of child obesity interventions and associations with oral health disparity interventions that are applicable in the Native American landscape. The study will systematically review empirical evidence from interventions in Native communities for associations that exist between childhood obesity and oral health problems in Native American youth.  The research design of the project is a meta-analysis approach based in a mixed methodology. Results from this study will meet the goals of RWJF and also be relevant for clinical practice and intervention development for Native American groups, including reservation based health centers, Native American urban centers, and health care practitioners working with Native American peoples and communities.  The RWJF project will produce findings that will be important to youth and adolescent wellness departments, Native American summer youth programs, Native American obesity and diabetes programs, as well as the dental units found on many of the over 500 federally recognized Indian Nations and communities in the United States.

    Why I Applied to New Connections

    As the first doctoral level social work researcher in the ancient history of our federally recognized tribe who continues to maintain residence and work within the boundaries of the reservation it is truly a great honor to work with RWJF through the Native American Training and Research Center, University of Arizona. My growing research expertise is focused on Native American communities, with a slant toward health disparity issues. My efforts in this arena stem from years of clinical practice experience and beginning health disparity research. My research background is both qualitatively and quantitatively based. Such measures are specifically useful in health disparity intervention studies in Native American communities. Results from this proposed project will inform tribal health centers, promote culturally relevant intervention development, and guide providers working within the Native American landscape. I see this award from RWJF as an opportunity to continue my professional development and growth pertaining to conducting respectful and ethical research and training in the Native American landscape while at the same time meeting the aims of the RWJF for increasing diversity. It is ultimately my goal to continue learning as a researcher and to share these experiences in good ways. My passion is research conducted intelligently and completed respectfully. Nothing else in my professional life brings the same happiness as giving back to Native communities. Although I am fortunate to have found something I am so passionate about, I feel that I have a responsibility to work hard for Native societies. It is a great responsibility to share the process of respectful research for community improvement.

    What New Connections Means for my Career

    In the future, I intend to participate in research projects in the areas of vocational rehabilitation, workplace and employment research, and health disparities. These interests are in line with my experience in employment assistance programming, my past work with numerous federal vocational readiness grant mechanisms, and my interest in the overarching issues of health disparity research (including childhood obesity, diabetes, and oral health disparities). Through my involvement in past and present projects, conferences, and trainings, I have established networks across the world, from Harvard Medical School, to the tribes of the Haudenosaunee, to urban tribal centers across the county and into Canada. My colleagues come from a variety of professional disciplines, including medical doctors, social workers, nurses, and an array of social scientists at both research and practice levels. To foster my research goals, I will continue building these relationships and develop unique research means for tribal growth, development, and wellness.

    Research Interests

    My research and growing expertise are focused on Native and First Nations communities, with a slant toward both health disparity issues and workplace concerns. My efforts in this arena stem from years of clinical practice experience, federal service grant writing and administration, and health disparity research. For example, I have been involved in administration of the Vocational Rehabilitation for American Indians with Disabilities Program, and my consulting firm provides employee assistance programming for Native American nations and conduct related tribal projects across North America. My research philosophy and background are both qualitatively and quantitatively based. I am particularly interested in rigorous qualitative methods and how they make an appropriate fit to small sample sizes and the practiced art of storytelling. Conversely, quantitative measures hold great relevance for my research development and application. Such measures are specifically useful in health disparity intervention studies, as well as workplace and vocational studies, in Native, First Nations, and Indigenous communities across the world. Completed in 2007, my dissertation research focused on the use of recreational tobacco products (not ceremonial or sacred) in North American Indian populations. I used a qualitative grounded theory study to discover the process that residents of the Seneca Nation of Indians went through as they quit smoking. As part of the dissertation project, enrolled Seneca Nation tribal members shared stories about how they successfully navigated from recreational tobacco use behaviors to a smoke-free lifestyle. The aim of the project was to explore the meaning participants ascribed to those stories and what effect that meaning had on their success in quitting. The results from the study helped lay the foundation for future research into health disparities in Native and First Nation communities. These initial results inform tribal health centers, promote culturally relevant intervention development, and guide providers working within the Native American landscape. Furthermore, the study offers a framework that may have significant relevance for indigenous populations worldwide.


    Social Work

    Populations Served

    Diabetes and the complications that arise from it represent a national public health concern. Within Native American populations, members often have higher rates of diabetes than that found among non-Native American populations. Hence, research on obesity in the Native American population can ultimately lead to meaningful behavioral and clinical interventions for combating diabetes. An understanding of the lifestyle and life-choice behaviors which are often associated with diabetes may provide clinical insights for mitigating other health related problems which are found in Native populations, such as poor oral hygiene. Diabetes often originates early in life and is possibly related to lifestyle factors including eating habits. Oral health and eating habits are associated. For example, a child with poor oral hygiene may have poor eating habits, and conversely, poor eating habits may be a major factor in bad oral hygiene. Conceptually, because of increased prevalence of diabetes in adult Native populations, it makes logical sense to start with youth obesity related concerns, which include two health issues that intertwine: obesity interventions and oral health interventions and their commonalities for successful improvement in Native American settings.

    Honors and Awards

    Native Research Network Inc., In- Coming Co-chair, 2010-2011

    National Association of Social Workers, Private Practice Committee Member, 2009-2010

    United States Department of Education, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office to the President, Expert Panel Member, 2010.

    Honored Published Profile: National Association of Social Workers, 2009

    Keynote Speaker Vision 2020 Program, Seneca Nation Native workforce development internship program, 2008

    Emcee, Peter Doctor Memorial Educational Scholarship Program, 2007-2010

    American Legacy Foundation Travel Scholar, Society for Nicotine and Tobacco Research, Austin, TX, 2007

    Chief Freeman Johnson Scholarship, 2003-2004

    Seneca Nation Professional Scholarship, 2003-2006

    American Indian Graduate Center Fellow, 2003-2006

    Betty W. Stovroff Memorial Scholarship, 2002

    Seneca Nation of Indian Higher Education Scholarship Awards

    Invited Guest to American Indian Inaugural Ball, 1996 / 2000

    Internet and Intertribal Mark Diamond Research Foundation. Student Essay Award, 2002

    Peter Doctor Memorial Academic Scholarship Award


    Johnson, J., Baldwin, J., Gryczynski, Wiechelt, S.A., Haring & Haring, R.C. (2010). The Native American Experience: From Displacement and Cultural Trauma to Resilience. Chapter in Multiethnicity & Multiethnic Families: Development, Identity, and Resilience. McCubbin H., Ontai, K., Kehl L., McCubbin, L., Strom, I., Hart, H., Debaryshe, B., Ribke, M. & Matsuoka, J. by Le’a Publications, Hawai’i, Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.

    Haring, R.C., Dennis, M., Freeman, B., Guiffrida, A.L. (2010). Native American Reasons for Quitting: Relationship Building for a Healthy Future and Better Life Control.  Journal of Indigenous Voices in Social Work. (Manuscript submitted for review).

    Haring, R.C., Freeland, S. (2010) EAP in Rural Settings: Back to the Foundations of Social Work Practice. National Association of Social Workers, Private Practice Newsletter.

    Haring, R.C. (2010).  Externalizing in EAP Practice:  Narrative Therapy for Employee Assistance Program Practice.  National Association of Social Workers, Journal of Substance use and Misuse (Manuscript submitted for review.)

    Haring, R.C.  (2009). Private Practice and the Native American Client.  National Association of Social Workers, Private Practice Newsletter, Issue 1.

    Haring, R.C. (2009).Supplemental Integration and Cost Savings: Employee Assistance Programs Working With Native American Human Service Units and Tribal Courts. American Indian Quarterly. (Manuscript accepted for review).

    Haring, R.C. (2008). Bridging Research to Practice: Native American Stories of Becoming Smoke Free. Journal of Indigenous Voices in Social Work. (Manuscript accepted).

    Haring, R.C. (2008). Fast-Food Restaurants and Other Health-Related Establishments’ Proximity to Native American Reservations: Using Geographic Information System (GIS) Technology to Uncover Health Disparity Concerns (Consulting manuscript submitted to SUNY Buffalo).

    Haring, R.C. (2008). Native American Performers in the Film Industry: A Qualitative Examination for Positive Organizational Development. (Consulting manuscript submitted to SUNY Buffalo; dissertation direction 2005-2006).

    Haring, R.C. (January, 2008) Conducting culturally appropriate qualitative market research in the Native American landscape. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal.

    Haring, R.C. (2007). (accepted; date is forthcoming) Narrative Therapy with Native American Tobacco Users. Journal of Substance Use and Misuse.

    Godlaski, T.M., Johnson, J. & Haring, R.C. (2006). Reflections on Ethical Issues in Research with Aboriginal Peoples.  Chapter in Ethical Challenges for Intervening in Drug Use: Policy, Research and Treatment Issues, J. Kleinig and Einstein, S. by the Office of International Criminal Justice (OICJ), Sam Houston State University, Criminal Justice Center, Huntsville, TX.

    Johnson, J., Baldwin, J., Haring, R. C., Wiechelt, S. A., Roth, S., Gryczynski, J., & Lozano, H. (in press). Chapter 4: Essential information for disaster management and trauma specialists working with American Indians. In (Marsella, A., Johnson, J., Watson, P., & Gryczynski, J., Eds.) Ethnocultural Perspectives on Disaster and Trauma: Foundations, Issues, and Applications. New York, NY: Springer SBM Publishing.