Trained as a medical anthropologist, Dr. Robin T. Higashi specializes in using qualitative methods to evaluate barriers to health services delivery and strategize ways to enhance health outcomes for underserved populations. Since joining the faculty in 2019, Dr. Higashi has undertaken several studies related to remote technologies, focusing on Spanish-speaking, older adult, and minoritized populations that have inequitable access to technology and limited digital literacy skills. Dr. Higashi executed a Community-Engaged Research pilot grant (2020-22, with Co-PI Dr. Timothy P. Hogan) through the Simmons Office of Community Outreach, Engagement and Equity, to study provider and patient responses to the rapid implementation of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently a Cary Council “DocStar” awardee (2022-23), pursuing a study to understand the digital health literacy needs and identify strategies to enhance telehealth among underserved populations in the Redbird area of Dallas. Most recently, Dr. Higashi was awarded a 3-year grant through the Texas Health Resources (THR) Clinical Scholar Program (2022-25, with Co-PI Dr. Robert Turer), for a study to facilitate patient portal awareness, enrollment and use among Spanish-speaking patients.

Dr. Higashi also serves as Co-Investigator on several large mixed methods interventional studies, including: optimizing cervical cancer screening (NCI UM1CA221940 Tiro/Haas/Kamineni), evaluating connection to care needs among the rural uninsured (NIH P30CA142543 Arteaga), and enhancing linkage to PrEP for formerly incarcerated individuals (NIMH 1R01MH129185 Nijhawan). 

Dr. Higashi currently leads a group of faculty and staff who provide qualitative expertise and services to investigators across the University. Using her fluency in Spanish, she also serves as Program Director of the School’s Spanish Language Validation Resource, which provides translation and validation services to investigators, ensuring that study materials are accurate, culturally appropriate, and accessible to Spanish-speaking and lower-literacy populations. 

Dr. Higashi remains actively involved in teaching and mentoring clinical faculty and research staff new to qualitative methods. And she regularly conducts lectures at UT Southwestern Medical School to increase student and trainee awareness of the challenges faced by stigmatized and underserved populations, including those served by Parkland, our safety net institution. 


Stanford University (1998), Psychology
Graduate School
Uni of California-Sfrancisco (2010), Medical Anthropology

Research Interest

  • digital health literacy
  • impact of structural inequality on health experience and outcomes
  • mobile and remote health technology, including patient portals and telehealth
  • Spanish-speaking populations


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Empowering learners to provide dietary counselling.
Jain S, Higashi RT, Bonnema R, Albin J, Clin Teach 2022 Sep e13521
Experiences of increased food insecurity, economic and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-enrolled food pantry clients.
Higashi RT, Sood A, Conrado AB, Shahan KL, Leonard T, Pruitt SL, Public Health Nutr 2021 Dec 1-11
Anal cancer screening among women with HIV: provider experiences and system-level challenges.
Higashi RT, Rodriguez SA, Betts AC, Tiro JA, Luque AE, Rivera R, Barnes A, AIDS Care 2021 Feb 1-7
Anal Cancer and Anal Cancer Screening Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceived Risk Among Women Living With HIV.
Rodriguez SA, Higashi RT, Betts AC, Ortiz C, Tiro JA, Luque AE, Barnes A, J Low Genit Tract Dis 2021 Jan 25 1 43-47
Adaptation of Group-Based Suicide Intervention for Latinx Youth in a Community Mental Health Center
Kennard B, A Moorehead, S Stewart, A El-Behadli, H Mbroh, K Goga, R Wildman, M Michaels, RT Higashi J Child Family Stud 2020 29 4 2058-2069


Featured Books Legend Featured Books