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The College of Public Health

Public Health Magazine

Public Health Magazine
department of Health Promotion Sciences
J. Neil Henderson 

J. Neil Henderson, Ph.D.

Phone: (405) 271-2017, ext 46756
Office: The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
801 Northeast 13th Street, Room 450
Post Office Box 26901
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73126-0901
Email: neil-henderson@ouhsc.edu



Dr Henderson's research interest include the following subjects: medical anthropology and public health; biocutural analysis of health and disease from a lifespan health perspective; cultural construction of health and disease; intercultureal health communications; health and disease in American Indian/Alaska Native populations, Hispanics, and African Americans; newly emerging chronic diseases; dementing diseases in American Indians/Alaska Natives, Hispanics and African-Americans; impact of organizational culture on health care dynamics; institutional and informal long term care strategies in rural and urban communities; enhanced paraprofessional capability in community and family health; non-empirical environments and health effects.

Honors (selected)

  • 2006 Leadership in Prevention Award for Native American Health
    Loma Linda University, School of Public Health
  • 2006 Award for Achievement in Native American Health, University of Oklahoma, College of Public Health.
  • 1996 President Association for Anthropology and Gerontology


  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Health of the American Indian
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Medical Pluralism in Community health and Interventions
  • Qualitative Research Methods


  • Ph.D., Medical Anthropology, University of Florida, 1979
  • M.S., Psychological Anthropology, Florida State University, 1975
  • B.A., Sociology/Anthropology,University of Central Florida, 1973

Invited Professional Committee Memberships:

  • June, 2006 External Advisory Board, Center for Health Equality, Center of Excellence in Partnership for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities, and Training grant, (EXPORT), University of Arizona, Tucson.
  • June 2006- Present Centers for Disease Control: National Public Health Action Plan to Promote and Protect Brain Health, Prevention Research Workgroup.
  • Sept 2005- Present Kellogg/ASPH Disparities Task Force, American Schools of Public Health
  • Sept 2004- Present National Alzheimer's Association
    Oversight Committee for Diversity.

Other College of Public Health Activities

  • Jan 2001- Present Faculty Advisor Native American Public Health Student Association

Selected Publications (Journal Articles)  

  • Henderson, J. N. and Traphagan, J. (2005). Cultural Factors in Alzheimer's Disease: Perspectives from the Anthropology of Aging. Alzheimer's Disease and Associated Disorders 19: 272-274.
  • Hounton, S., Carabin, H., and Henderson, J.N. (2005). Towards an Understanding of Barriers to Condom Use in Rural Benin Using the Health Belief Model. BMC Public Health 5: (1471-2458-5- 8).
  • Henderson, J.N., Henderson, L.C., Raskob, G., and Boatright, D. (2004). Chemical (VX) Terrorist Threat: Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Responses. Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science 2: 1-5.
  • Norman, R. and J. Neil Henderson (2003). Aging: an Overview. Dermatologic Therapy 16: 181-185.
  • Henderson, J. N. (2002). The experience and interpretation of dementia: Cross-cultural perspectives
    [Introduction to a special issue on the cultural construction of Alzheimer's disease]. Journal
    of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
  • Henderson, J. N., & Henderson, L.C. (2002). Cultural construction of disease: A "supernormal" construct of dementia in an American Indian tribe. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 17:197-212.
  • Henderson, J. N., Crook, R., Crook, J., Hardy, J., Onstead, L., Carson-Henderson, L., Mayer, P., Parker, B., Petersen, R., & Williams, B. (2002). Apolipoprotein E4 allele and tau allele frequencies among Choctaw Indians. Neuroscience Letters, 324, 77-79.
  • Henderson, J. N. (2002). Rituals of respect: Medicine for the spirit (newsletter). Native Aging Visions 2:4. University of North Dakota. Grand Forks, North Dakota.
  • Haley, W., Han, B., & Henderson, J. N. (1998). Aging and ethnicity: issues for clinical practice. Journal of
    Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
    , 5, 393-409.
  • Henderson, J. N., & Whaley, M. (1997). Cultural factors in geriatric rehabilitation: Ethnic-specific and
    generational cultures. Journal of Geriatric Rehabilitation, 12(3), 1-9.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1994). Bed, body, and soul: The job of the nursing home aide. Generations, 18, 20- 22.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1994). Caregiving issues in cultural diverse populations. Seminars in Speech and Language, 15, 216-225.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1994). Protecting the frustrated eloper. The Journal of Long-Term Care Administration, 21, 13-14.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1994). The culture of special care units: An anthropological perspective on ethnographic research in nursing home settings. Alzheimer's Disease and Association Disorders: An International Journa1, 8, 5410-5416.
  • Henderson, J. N., Gutierrez-Mayka, M., Garcia, J., & Boyd, S. (1993). A model for Alzheimer's disease support group development in African American and Hispanic populations. The Gerontologist 33, 409-414.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1993). The "cultural diversity" epidemic (editorial). Gerontological Health
    Section Newsletter
    . American Public Health Association.
  • Gutierrez-Mayka, M., & Henderson, J. N. (1993). Social work for non-social workers: An example of
    unplanned role expansion in a community health intervention project. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 20, 135-146.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1992). The power of support: Alzheimer's disease support groups for minority
    families. Aging, 363-364, 24-28
  • Henderson, J. N., & Gutierrez-Mayka, M. (1992). Ethnocultural themes in caregiving to Alzheimer's patients in Hispanic families. Clinical Gerontologist, 11, 59- 74.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1990). Occupational cultures in contact: medical anthropology as an emergent discipline in a health science context. High Plains Applied Anthropologist, 9/10,126-138.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1987). When a professor turns nurse aide. Provider, 113, 8-12.
  • New, P. K., Henderson, J. N., & Padgett, D. (1986). Aging, ethnicity, and the public: Policy implications.
    Journal of Applied Gerontology, 4(1), 1-5.
  • Rich, T., & Henderson, J. N. (1986). The development of a mental health and aging curriculum. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 4(1),117-122.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1985). Creating culturally relevant Alzheimer's support groups for racial and
    ethnic minorities. ERIC Document Reproduction Service, ED 258070.

    Henderson, J. N. (1981). Nursing home housekeepers: indigenous agents of psychosocial
    support. Human Organization, 40, 300-305.Henderson, J. N. (1981). Comanche ghost sickness: A biocultural perspective. Medical Anthropology, 5, 195-205

  • Henderson, J. N. (1977). An anglo sucking cure from rural north Florida. The Florida Anthropologist, 30, 24-31.

Selected Publications (Book Chapters)

  • Henderson, J.N. and Henderson, L. C. (2004). Oklahoma Choctaws. In Ember, C., and Ember, M. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology: Health and Illness in the World's Cultures. New York: Kluwer.
  • Henderson, J.N., Finke, B., and McCabe, M. (2004). Older American Indians and Alaska Natives. In Adler, R., and Kamel, H. (Eds.). Doorway Thoughts: Cross-Cultural Health Care for Older Adults. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
  • Henderson, J. N. (2003). Aging and Public Health. In R.A. Norman & T.S. Dharmarajan (Eds.), Clinical geriatrics for primary care. Philadelphia: Saunders.
  • Henderson, J.N. (2003). Alzheimer's Units and Special Care: A Soteriological Fantasy. In P. Stafford, (Ed.), Gray Areas: Ethnographic Encounters with Nursing Home Culture. Santa Fe: School for American Research Press.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1998). Dementia in cultural context: The development and decline of a support group. In J. Sokolovsky (Ed), The cultural context of aging, 2nd edition. New York: Bergin and Garvey.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1996). Dementia in Cuban and Puerto Rican populations. In G. Yeo & D. Gallagher- Thompson (Eds.), Ethnicity and the dementias. New York: Taylor and Francis.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1994). Race and ethnicity. In J. Gubrium & A. Sankar (Eds.), Qualitative research in elderly populations. New York: Sage.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1994). Care of the elderly: dementia specific care units. In G.H. Stopp ( Ed.), International health care for the elderly. International Exchange Center on Gerontology.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1993). Spa in the dust bowl: Oklahoma's hidden paradise. In H. Stein & R. Hill (Eds.), The culture of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1990). Anthropology, aging and health. In R. Rubinstein (Ed.). Anthropology and aging: Comprehensive reviews. Boston: Kluwer.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1990). Alzheimer's disease in cultural context. In J. Sokolosky (Ed.), Cultural context of aging: worldwide perspectives. New York: Bergin & Garvey.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1987). Mental disorders among the elderly: dementia and its sociocultural
    correlates. In P .Silverman (Ed.), The elderly as modern pioneers. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Henderson, J. N. (1987). Nursing home housekeepers: Indigenous agents of psychosocial
    support. In H. Schwartz (Ed.), Dominant issues in medical sociology. New York: Random House.

Selected Publications (Books)

  • Henderson, J., Henderson, C., and McCabe, M. (Eds.) (in progress). Health, culture, and spirit: Visions of American Indian elders in a new world. New York: SUNY Press.
  • Coreil, J., Bryant, C., & Henderson, J.N. (2001). Social and behavioral foundations of public health.
    Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  • Henderson, J. N., & Vesperi, M. (1995). The culture of long- term care: Nursing home ethnography.
    New York: Bergin & Garvey.

Academic Papers Presented  

  • Jan 2006 "The Future of Public Health Without Minority Faculty." Invited Lecture. Kellogg/American Schools of Public Health Minority Faculty Retreat. Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • June 2005 "Biocultural Model of Dementia in American Indians (with L. Carson Henderson, Ph.D., MPH). Invited Lecture: International Alzheimer's Association Conference, Washington, DC.
  • Feb 2005 "Culture and Fire: Abuse of 'Culture' in Service Delivery to Ethnic Minority Elders." Invited Lecture. Pfizer Symposium: "Models of Service Delivery for Minority Populations and Caregivers." Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  • Nov. 2004 "Unique Non-Majority Population Perceptions & Responses to Chemical (VX) Threat." American Public Health Association meeting. Washington, D.C.
  • Nov 2001 "Dementia and Culture." Invited speaker: 25th Anniversary Symposium, Association for Anthropology and Gerontology. American Anthropological Association meeting. Washington, D.C.
  • Apr 2001 "On the Misuse of Culture in Research." Keynote Address, University Scholar Series. University of Montana. Missoula, Montana.
  • Apr 2001 "Vascular Dementia and Diabetes Mellitus II: A Biocultural Hypothesis for Indian Country." Indian Health Service Annual Research Conference. Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Mar 2001 "Cultural Issues in End-of-Life Hospice Care." Successful Aging. University of Florida. Gainesville, Florida.
  • Nov 2000 "Alzheimer's Disease Knowledge Test in Community Health Representatives of the Indian Health Service." Gerontological Society of America. Washington, DC.
  • Feb 2000 "Alzheimer's Disease as an Altered State of Consciousness: Mystical Interpretations in a Native American Tribe." Cultural Construction of Senile Dementia Conference. California State University. Fullerton, California.
  • March 2000 "Detecting Cultural Dynamics in Contemporary Indian Country." National Native American Nursing Conference. Tampa, Florida.
  • April 2000 "Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Dementia in Indian Country." Montana Gerontology Society 18th Annual Conference. Butte, Montana.
  • April 2000 "The "Cutting Edge of Genetic Research on Alzheimer's Disease." Nurse Leadership Conference. Montana Nurses' Association. Hot Springs, Montana.
  • April 2000 "A Biocultural Hypothesis of Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Dementia in Indian Country." Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. Portland, Oregon.
  • Nov 2000 "Native American Community Health Representatives: Very Low Scores on Alzheimer's Disease Knowledge Test." The Gerontological Society of America. Washington, DC.
  • March 1999 "Qualitative Research and Cultural Context Detection." American Association
    for Geriatric Psychiatry. New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Nov 1999 "Cultural Constructions of Dementia among Oklahoma Choctaws: Composite Professional, Folk, and Popular Sector Beliefs." The Gerontological Society of America. San Francisco, California.
  • June 1998 "Dementia in Indian Country." Grand Rounds. University of New Mexico, Geriatric Education Center, College of Medicine. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • April 1998 "The Culture of Long-Term Care." Keynote speaker." Montana Gerontological Society. Billings, Montana
  • November 1996 "American Indian Aging. Pre-conference intensive." Gerontological Society of
    America. Washington, D.C.
  • December 1995 "Forgetfulness and Confusion in Indian Country." The National Resource Center
    on Native American Aging. Mesa, Arizona
  • November 1995 "Fifty Years of Anthropology and Aging." Gerontological Society of America.
    Los Angeles, California
  • August 1995 "Dementia Issues for Community Health Representatives." The Oklahoma Area
    Indian Health Services Annual Conference for Community Health Representatives.
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • June 1995 "Biocultural Aspects of Dementia in Indian Country." American Indian Elders
    conference. The National Resource Center on Native American Aging. Grand Forks,
    North Dakota
  • November 1994 "The Gerontology of American Indian Epidemiology." American Public Health
    Association. Washington, D.C.
  • March 1994 "The Gerontology of American Indian Epidemiology." Society for Applied
    Anthropology. Cancun, Mexico
  • July 1993 "Mechanisms for Ensuring the Quality of Institutional Care for the Elderly."
    With J. Kosberg and J. Garcia. XVth International Congress of Gerontology, Budapest, Hungary
  • March 1993 "Chronic Life: a New Geriatric Syndrome." Society for Applied Anthropology,
    San Antonio, Texas
  • February 1993 "Is the Geriatric Syndrome of Chronic Life a Culture Bound Phenomenon?"
    American Association for the Advancement of Science, Boston, Massachusetts
  • November 1992 "Community Intervention in Alzheimer's Disease: Ethnic Minority Support Group Development. " American Public Health Association. Washington, DC
  • November 1992 "Qualitative Research Issues in Nursing Home Ethnography." Gerontological Society
    of America, Washington, DC
  • December 1991 "Dementia Specific Care Units: Medicalization of Alzheimer's Disease."
    Hong Kong International Conference on the Elderly, Hong Kong
  • November 1991 "Gender Roles in Elderly Latin Women." Gerontological Society of America,
    San Francisco, California
  • November 1991 "Dementia Specific Care Units", Gerontological Society of America, San Francisco, California
  • March 1991 "Removing Barriers for Services for Elderly Ethnic Caregivers." Oklahoma State
    Conference on Aging, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • October 1990 "Introducing Services to Ethnic Minority Elderly Caregivers." Mental Health and
    Hispanics Conference. Tampa, Florida
  • April 1990 "Improving Service Utilization among Ethnic Minority Elderly. " Association for
    Gerontology in Higher Education. Kansas City, Missouri
  • November 1989 "Ethnocultural Themes in Caregiving to Dementia Patients." National
    Resource Center on Rural Aging. Little Rock, Arkansas
  • August 1989 "Developing Services for Rural Ethnic Caregivers to Dementia Patients." National
    Resource Center on Rural Aging. Little Rock, Arkansas
  • June 1989 "Perception of Gender Roles in Older Hispanic Women." International Congress on Gerontology. Acapulco, Mexico
  • April 1989 "Social Network Assessment Techniques for Older Patients." Gerontological Society
    of Florida. Orlando, Florida
  • April 1988 "Occupational cultures in Contact: Medical Anthropology as an Emergent Discipline in a Health Science Context." Society for Applied Anthropology. Tampa, Florida.
  • November 1986 "Ethnic Primary Caregivers to Alzheimer's Patients." Gerontological Society of
    America, Chicago, Illinois
  • November 1985 "Mental Health and Aging Curriculum Development." Gerontological Society of
    America, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • November 1984 "Community Based Geriatric Health Care: Ethnic Specific Dementia Support Groups." American Anthropological Association, Denver, Colorado
  • November 1984 "Creating Culturally Relevant Alzheimer's Support Groups for Ethnic Populations." Gerontological Society of America, San Antonio, Texas