Oral History: Dr. Dena Hassouneh

This post comes from Zoë Maughan, Student Archives Assistant in the Historical Collections & Archives.

Head shot photo of Dr. Dena Hassouneh, standing in front of bookshelvesAnother interview from our Oral History Collection is now available online! This interview comes from Dena Hassouneh, Ph.D., R.N., A.N.P., P.M.H.N.P., F.A.A.N., who is a professor in the OHSU School of Nursing. In this interview conducted by Martha Driessnack, Dr. Hassouneh describes her experiences in the field of nursing as a Master’s student, a Ph.D. student, and a professor. A main focus in this interview, Dr. Hassouneh’s primary research interests include mental health in women from marginalized populations and diversity in health professions education. Common threads which guide both her research and the conversation include disparities in access to health care and health professions education, systems of oppression, and culture.

Dr. Hassouneh completed her undergraduate education at the University of Washington and came to OHSU as a Master’s student in 1993. She completed studies in Community Health Nursing, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Nursing, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner between 1993 and 2006. Dr. Hassouneh graduated with her Ph.D. in 1999 and completed a post doc at OHSU in 2000. That same year, she joined the OHSU faculty as a professor in the School of Nursing. Dr. Hassouneh describes her experiences as both a student and professor at OHSU as well as the educational path which led to her current research interests.

You can find Dr. Hassouneh’s Master’s thesis and Ph.D. dissertation in the OHSU Digital Collections.

Discussing some of her research findings, Dr. Hassouneh highlights the importance of doing research with marginalized and vulnerable populations. She describes her dissertation on domestic violence in the American Muslim community and how discussing the subject at all was considered taboo. Dr. Hassouneh was one of the first researchers to break the silence on this topic and laid the groundwork for women in American Muslim communities to form committees to address domestic violence in their own communities. While discussing the importance of doing research with historically marginalized communities, Hassouneh describes the nesting layers of oppression many Muslim women experience:

So many people tend to socialize in the Muslim community, but maybe not have a lot of supports outside the community. And when you are in kind of a community that’s sort of insular and then you’re not allowed to talk about your experience, you are really kind of doubly silenced. And I think that there has to be … someone to really listen to those voices. Because otherwise the suffering just continues and nobody can even know about what’s going on, or what are some of the things that we could do.

She continues on to discuss the critical role of increasing visibility for marginalized communities in her research. Dr. Hassouneh gives a second example of this, describing her involvement with a community-based research project done in collaboration with members of the Oregon disability community. The project originally involved developing and testing a program for women with physical disabilities who have depression and once that program was complete and running, the work shifted to developing a similar program for men. She describes how her identity as a community-based participatory researcher has led to her involvement in research projects she may not have engaged with otherwise.

This interview with Dr. Hassouneh highlights the importance of creating visibility for historically marginalized communities in health care and health professions research. To read more about Dr. Hassouneh’s life and career, visit our Digital Collections to read the full interview.

Read the interview

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