Dr. Ninez Ponce Named Principal Investigator of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)

This is a summary of the UCLA Faculty Profile of Dr. Ninez Ponce.

Dr. Ninez Ponce, Associate  Professor in the Department of Health Services at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, has recently been named as the Principal Investigator of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the largest state-based health interview entity in the U.S. with over 50,000 Californians surveyed annually in English, Spanish, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Korean, and Vietnamese, and soon to be added, Tagalog, the principal dialect of Filipino Americans

Prior to her position as PI, Dr. Ponce played an active role in developing CHIS and advocating for hard-to-reach racial and ethnic groups to be better represented in population-based health surveys. Dr. Ponce was also a former pilot study leader of AANCART, examining the effects of salient health care market characteristics on colorectal cancer screening behaviors among API’s.

The need for oversampling Asian subgroups is critical, because Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have lower screening rates for certain cancers, but rates among specific Asian subgroups vary widely. Obtaining detailed data from the subgroups makes it possible to target the right groups to overcome barriers to screening. In her position as PI of CHIS, Dr. Ponce led the efforts on the measurement of race and ethnicity, acculturation, physician-patient community, and discrimination. As a result, she devised the rationale for Asian subgroup oversamples and the cultural and linguistic adaptation of the survey. She is currently working to incorporate the use of Tagalog in the next CHIS.

Thanks to Dr. Ponce’s efforts, CHIS continues to be translated into several Asian languages enabling the survey to reach a wider array of communities. Legislators, policy makers, state agencies, community organizations, and many other organizations can use CHIS data to justify the need to promote cancer education programs and screenings among the hard-to-reach API populations.