Patricia I Documet

  • Associate Professor, Director of the Doctoral Program
  • Director of Latinx Research and Outreach, Center for Health Equity
  • Associate Director, Evaluation Institute
  • Faculty in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Clinical and Translational Sciences, Anthropology and Center for Latin American Studies

My focus is on the influence of social relationships on health among disempowered minorities, especially Latinos. My ultimate goals are 1) to increase health equity by using social network and participatory methods to train researchers and practitioners, especially those from disadvantaged groups, and 2) to empower communities. The research I conduct contributes to scientific development and enriches my in-class instruction. Over time, my studies have become increasingly participatory, enabling me to involve students in data collection and analysis as well as in collaborative design.

Much of my current work involves peer support or community health workers (CHW). For many years I have been associated with the Latino Engagement Group for Salud (LEGS), a coalition comprised of community members and organizations working with Latinos, focused on community-based participatory initiatives. Together, we completed an assessment of the health of Latino immigrant men and implemented a male promotores (CHW) network in Pittsburgh to assist other Latino men. In the same vein, I collaborated with faculty across campus in multiple CHW interventions to promote access to care, healthy eating, and exercise among adults, children and entire families. Recently, I explored the stressors Latino youth face in an emerging community and subsequently tested remote "face-to-face" support groups for adolescents, "Cuenta Conmigo." Recently we completed community engaged research with a youth group to co-create the modified "Cuenta Conmigo." My research interests include social relationships, cancer, breastfeeding, racial and ethnic disparities, evaluation, and global health.

Another aspect of my work focuses on evaluation, always centering equity. I am PI of the HRSA-funded Mid-Atlantic Regional Public Health Training Center (MAR-PHTC) that has the goal of training the current and future workforce in innovative ways, emphasizing practice and a diverse workforce that reflects the population it serves. Since I served as MAR-PHTC evaluator from 2014 to 2022, documenting successes and enabling improvements in real time are priorities. Focused on process and outcome metrics, I have applied continuous quality improvement to ensure success. In addition to the MAR-PHTC, my evaluation portfolio includes projects ranging from the Emergency Law Inventory to promotores interventions.


MD, 1984 Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru
Pediatrician, 1988 Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru
MPH, 1995, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
1996, Certificate in Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
2002, DrPH, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA


I hold three core beliefs about education: 1) research, teaching and practice are complementary activities; 2) a carefully built curriculum supports the best education; and 3) diversity is enrichment. My students are professionals in training. My task is to help them discover and develop their talents and identify how they can contribute to their fields and their communities. By including my students as collaborators in research studies, exposing them to research design, data collection and analysis as well as ethical considerations and manuscript development, I am able to blend education and research. I have mentored students within the context of a variety of my own research projects, from population-based surveys to community-based participatory research (CBPR). In the same spirit, I engage students in service opportunities with communities to increase their cultural competence, and in service with professional organizations to broaden their connections for future research and practice. In summary, research and practice ground education in real issues that matter to communities as well as in the field of social and behavioral sciences.

Students are most engaged if they find the material useful for their careers. To illustrate, in “Introduction to Applied Research,” students talk about positions they foresee holding after finishing their degree. The discussion then focuses on what aspects of the course are beneficial for them, especially for those who want a career in public health practice. At their request, I have emphasized materials and approaches likely to be used by practitioners in implementing and evaluating interventions. For a few years I have also been teaching “Measurement in the Social and Behavioral Sciences,” where I emphasize practical aspects of the selection and use of scales that fit the culture and needs of the particular community that students are working with. Finally, I teach BCHS 3004, Grant Writing, where students work on preparing federal pre-doctoral proposals to NIH.

Recently, I have been taking advantage of internal funding initiatives to offer students an opportunity to plan and execute a project. In 2018, as part of the Year of Healthy U, three students led “Pitt Moves!” a project to implement physical activity breaks in classes. We enrolled ten courses and a total of 134 students. We have recently published Pitt Moves! And I am seeking to use it in classes post-pandemic. The previous year, at the initiative of a student, I obtained funding for a Year of Diversity Project, OjO Latino, a PhotoVoice to increase visibility for the growing local Latino community. They answered to the question “What does it mean to be Latino in Pittsburgh?” We held exhibitions at Pitt and in the community where photographers could share their experience. The photographs are now online at and we published the experience. Another student and I are working on publishing a qualitative study on the breastfeeding perceptions and experiences of Somali women. In 2022, we are excited to start a community engaged PhotoVoice project to investigate the attitudes of Latinos toward taking care of the environment, funded by the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation.

I work with students who wish to conduct research or community work with Latinos. For example, I have mentored medical students in organizing and implementing an interpreter service for Latinos at a clinic offering free medical services to adults as part of the University of Pittsburgh’s Program for Underserved Populations. Frequently, I serve on theses or dissertations of Anthropology students. Because of my affiliation with the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, I regularly mentor students designing research in or about Latin America.

Selected Publications

Ruiz-Sanchez HC, Macia L, Boyzo R, Documet PI. Community health workers promote perceived social support among Latino men:Respaldo. Journal of Migration and Health. 2021;4:100075

Littleberry A, Amruthapuri R, Taverno Ross SE, Hunter I, Documet PI. Feasibility of student-designed, peer-led classroom physical activity breaks in graduate school. Journal of American College Health. 2021:1-9.

Taverno Ross, SE, Liang, HW, Cheng, J, Fox, A, Documet, PI. Effectiveness of a promotores network to improve health in an emerging Latino community. Accepted for publication in Health Education and Behavior, Mar. 2022

Documet, PI, Louth, W, Smith-Tapia, I, Jaime, MC, Miller, E, Taverno Ross, SE. Pedagogic Tailoring of a Human Research Ethics Training for Community-Engaged Research with Latinos.Health Promotion Practice,23(1) 98-108, 2022

Taverno Ross, SE, Smith-Tapia, I , Saunders, RP, Documet, PI, Pate, RR. Implementation Monitoring of a Promotora-Led, Home-Based Obesity Prevention Pilot Study With Latino Preschool Children and Their Mothers.International Quarterly of Community Health Education, 2021, 41(4):411-418.

Freese, KE, Vega, A, Lawrence, JA, Documet, PI. Social Vulnerability Is Associated with Risk of COVID-19 Related Mortality in U.S. Counties with Confirmed Cases.Journal of Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved, 2021;32(1):245-257.

Documet PI, Macia L, Boyzo R, Thompson AF, Amruthapuri R. Outcomes from a Male-to-Male Promotores Intervention in an Emerging Latino Community.Journal of immigrant and minority health,2019, online Oct. 15, 2019

Sharma, NP, Documet, PI, Barone-Gibbs, B, Taverno-Ross, SE. Generational status, language use, parental limit setting, and screen time in U.S. Latino children. Accepted for publication in Family and Community Health, May 2020

Ruiz, HC, Pardo, P, DeFerrari, R, Savage, K, Documet, PI. OjO Latino: Shooting, Talking, and Exhibiting. A PhotoVoice Project Seeking the Recognition of Latino Presence in Pittsburgh, P.A. Contemporaneity, 2018, 7(1): 53-71.

Documet PI, McDonough BL, Van Nostrand E. Engaging Stakeholders at Every Opportunity: The Experience of the Emergency Law Inventory. Am J Public Health. 2018;108(S5):S394-S5.

Documet PI, Troyer MM, Macia L. Social Support, Health, and Health Care Access Among Latino Immigrant Men in an Emerging Community. Health Educ Behav. 2018, 46(1): 137-145.

Wilches-Gutierrez, J. Documet, P. What is known about sexual and reproductive health in Latin American and Caribbean mining contexts? A systematic scoping review. Public Health Review. 2018, Jan. 5. 39: 1, eCollection 2018.

Taverno Ross, SE. Barone Gibbs, B, Documet, PI, Pate, RR. ANDALE Pittsburgh: results of a promotora-led, home-based intervention to promote a healthy weight in Latino preschool children. BMC Public Health, 2018. 18(1): 360.

Taverno Ross SE, Macia L, Documet PI, Escribano C, Kazemi Naderi T, Smith-Tapia I. Latino Parents' Perceptions of Physical Activity and Healthy Eating: At the Intersection of Culture, Family, and Health. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2018;50(10):968-76.

Pesantes, MA, Documet, PI. Helping undocumented children in an emerging Latino community. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care. 2017; 13(3):309-320.

Taverno-Ross, SE, Documet, PI, Pate, RR, Smith-Tapia, I, Wisnieswski, LM, Gibbs, BB. Study protocol for a promotora led obesity prevention program in Latino preschool children. Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. 2017; 2(14):85-91.

Elias TI, Williams KR, Hershey TB, Documet PI, Barinas-Mitchell, E, Gary-Webb, T. The Health Equity Certificate Program: A targeted approach to reducing health disparities and increasing the competence of health professional students. Pedagogy in Health Promotion. 2017; 3(3):187-194.

Niebler, M, Documet, PI, Chaves-Gnecco, D, Guadamuz, TE. Childbirth experiences of immigrant Latina women in a new growth community. Journal of Racial Health Disparities, 2016; 3(3):466-472, 2016. DOI 10.1007/s40615-015-0159-y

Documet PI, Macia L, Thompson A, Gonzalez M, Boyzo R, Fox AR, Guadamuz TE. A Male Promotores Network for Latinos: Process Evaluation From a Community-Based Participatory Project. Health Promot Pract. 2016; 17(3): 332-342, DOI: 10.1177/PubMed PMID: 26463171 PMCID: PMC4833632.

Macia L, Ruiz HC, Boyzo R, Documet PI. Promotores' perspectives on a male-to-male peer network. Health Educ Res. 2016; 31(3):314-327. doi: 10.1093/her/cyw016

Yonas, MA, Jaime, MCD, Barone, J, Valenti, S, Documet, PI, Ryan, CM, Miller E. Community Partnered Research Ethics Training Process in Practice – A Collaborative Approach to Certification. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics (JERHRE). 2016; 11(2): 97-105.

Documet, PI, Bear, TM, Flatt, JD, Macia, L, Trauth, J, Ricci EM. The Association of Social Support and Education With Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening. Health Education and Behavior, 2015; 42(1): 55-64.&nbsp

Documet PI, Kamouyerou A, Pesantes A, Macia L, Maldonado H, Fox AR, Bachurski L, Morgenstern D, Gonzalez M, Boyzo R, Guadamuz T. Participatory Assessment of the Health of Latino Immigrant Men in a Community with a Growing Latino Population. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 2015; 17: 239-247. DOI 10.1007/s10903-013-9897-2