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Proceedings of the 2022 Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Consortium National Conference

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2023) | Viewed by 77214

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Basic Sciences, Ponce Health Sciences University, 395 Industrial Reparada, Ponce, PR 00716, USA
Interests: biochemistry; infection; HIV; AIDS; HIV/AIDS mentor
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Office of Health Equity Research, Yale School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA
Interests: public exposome; built environment; health disparities; statistical modeling; epidemiological studies; chronic diseases; infectious diseases; social determinants; biological determinants
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, 1731 E. 120th Street, Cobb Building, Los Angeles, CA 90059, USA
Interests: medicine; health sciences, health disparity, statistical modeling; epidemiological studies; chronic diseases; infectious diseases; social determinants of health
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
RCMI Center for Urban Health Disparities Research and Innovation, Richard Dixon Research Center, Morgan State University, 1700 E. Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore, MD 21251, USA
Interests: environmental health and diseases; gene-environment interactions; environmental toxicology, mutagenesis and carcinogenesis; environmental epidemiology and disease control; health risk assessment and management; ecological risk assessment and management; environmental chemistry and computational toxicology; environmental genomics and proteomics; environmental medicine; and natural resources damage assessment and management
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Guest Editor
Department of Pediatrics, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 651 Ilalo Street, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA
Interests: emerging infectious diseases
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH), entitled “Proceedings of the 2022 Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Consortium National Conference”, to highlight the research advances reported virtually on March 16, 2022 - March 18, 2022 (https://www.rcmi-cc.org/). IJERPH is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.

Building on the successes of the previous RCMI national and international symposia on health disparities, the theme of the 2022 RCMI Consortium National Conference is Inclusive Excellence. The scientific sessions and oral and poster presentations will showcase the best science across the RCMI Consortium. Hence, the overarching goal of the conference is to advance the science of minority health and health disparities through the development and implementation of collaborative solutions to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

Following opening remarks by NIMHD Director, Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable, Dr. Joshua C. Denny and Dr. Kenneth R. Gersing will highlight research collaboration and funding opportunities with the NIH All of Us Program and the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C), respectively. The Opening Session will also provide an update on NIMHD evaluation of the RCMI Program, as well as an update on the progress of the RCMI Coordinating Center in defining common metrics and data collection standards for evidence-based evaluation of the RCMI U54 Centers.

The plenary sessions, oral and poster presentations, and concurrent workshop sessions will highlight the best science across the RCMI Consortium. The concurrent workshops will feature the following RCMI research awards and collaborations: (1) RCMI Data Science & Data Science NOSI Awardees Workshop will foster data science skill-building activities, proposed by the Data Science NOSI award recipients, including the collaborative development of new data science training modules focused on the analysis of health disparities datasets; (2) RCMI COVID-19 Awardees and Community Engagement Workshop will promote and strengthen academic and community partnerships in effectively supporting clinical and translational research that addresses diseases that disproportionately impact RCMI communities; (3) Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) Workshop will discuss and highlight pragmatic and deployment-focused approaches that incorporate stakeholder perspectives in decision making for research studies, and service delivery strategies that are feasible, scalable, and sustainable, leading to  improvement in health care services for populations that experience health disparities; (4) Research Infrastructure Workshop will facilitate communication about research resources at RCMI U54 Centers in order to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of core facilities, and promote innovative practices for collaborative and interdisciplinary research; (5) Investigator Development Workshop will focus on preparing the all-important Specific Aims page and provide useful insights into the NIH application submission and peer-review processes, including information about the Early Career Reviewer Program; and (6) Research Administrators’ Workshop will introduce how RCMI U54 Centers can showcase their scientific discoveries and community health impact with the new RCMI Consortium website, as well as share solutions on efficient data collection for progress reports, evaluation, and other research-related deliverables.

The conference participants, including biomedical scientists, health care practitioners, trainees, clinicians, pharmacists, nurses and other allied health care professionals, and community and industry partners, will discuss and develop research strategies and approaches for eliminating health disparities. They will also examine career development opportunities and discuss the best methods and approaches for training the next generation of biomedical scientists and clinical researchers, as well as for engaging community partners and industry collaborations.

Focusing on basic biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research, the conference abstracts will address several key areas including: Basic and Applied Minority and Health Disparities Research; Behavioral and Social Determinants of Health; Capacity Building in Health Disparities Research; Clinical and Translational Minority Health and Health Disparity Research; Community-Based Participatory Research; Data Science/Big Data Applications to Health Sciences; Health and Health Care Policy Research; Health-Related Technologies; and Research in Special Population Sub-Groups. Hence, several important topics will be covered, including:

  • behavioral and social sciences
  • biomedical informatics and computational biology
  • cancer health disparities research
  • cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease
  • women, child, and adolescent health
  • clinical and translational science
  • cellular and molecular biology of human diseases
  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • environmental health and toxicology
  • health literacy and health information technology
  • hiv/aids and infectious diseases
  • nanoscience and nanotechnology
  • neuroscience and mental health disorders
  • public health sciences

This Special Issue aims to showcase the excellence in research and scientific discoveries on the above-listed topics. Submission of full manuscripts of original research, comprehensive reviews, and/or short communications on any of these topics presented at the conference is strongly encouraged. If you are interested in submitting a manuscript, please go online at www.ijerph.com to register and submit your manuscript by the deadline on October 30, 2022. Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere. All manuscripts will be thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process.

Prof. Dr. Elizabeth O. Ofili
Prof. Dr. Emma Fernández-Repollet
Prof. Dr. Richard J. Noel, Jr.
Prof. Dr. Daniel F. Sarpong
Prof. Dr. Magda Shaheen
Prof. Dr. Paul B. Tchounwou
Prof. Dr. Richard Yanagihara
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • behavioral and social sciences
  • biomedical informatics and computational biology
  • cancer health disparities research
  • cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease
  • women, child, and adolescent health
  • clinical and translational science
  • cellular and molecular biology of human diseases
  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • environmental health and toxicology
  • health literacy and health information technology
  • HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases
  • nanoscience and nanotechnology
  • neuroscience and mental health disorders
  • public health sciences

Published Papers (42 papers)

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13 pages, 1199 KiB  
Article
Perceived Role, Identity and Experiences of Pharmacists and the Potential Impact on COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake per Louisiana Region: A Prospective Cohort Study
by Brittany A. Singleton, Sara Al-Dahir, Christopher Gillard, Martha Earls, Julia Bommarito, Malcolm Duhe and Kevin Phi
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(15), 6459; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20156459 - 27 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1157
Abstract
Some of the lowest COVID-19 community vaccination rates in America are found in Louisiana. This study investigated: (1) barriers that Louisiana pharmacists encountered during the pandemic; and (2) the effect of pharmacists’ role and identity confidence on willingness to enforce vaccine mandates, and [...] Read more.
Some of the lowest COVID-19 community vaccination rates in America are found in Louisiana. This study investigated: (1) barriers that Louisiana pharmacists encountered during the pandemic; and (2) the effect of pharmacists’ role and identity confidence on willingness to enforce vaccine mandates, and COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Fifty-four community pharmacists from nine regions of Louisiana participated in the study. Pharmacists completed questionnaires about: personal demographics, patient population, vaccination encouragement, COVID-19 concerns, and vaccination administration rates. The importance of feeling like a trusted voice in the community, as well as professional perception and self-assurance, were measured using Likert scale questions. During focus groups, participants discussed experiences with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and vaccination-related obstacles. As the pandemic progressed, pharmacists reported being overworked, understaffed, and overburdened with new responsibilities. In regions with lower vaccination rates, pharmacists were less likely to feel at ease enforcing vaccine mandates. Independent pharmacists were less comfortable enforcing vaccine mandates than chain pharmacists but had more positive perceptions of their role and identity. This study contributes to further understanding of pharmacy workflow obstacles and pharmacists’ perceptions of their professional roles and identities in the community. Full article
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12 pages, 1257 KiB  
Article
Effect of High-Density Polyethylene Microplastics on the Survival and Development of Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) Larvae
by Sulakshana Bhatt, Chunlei Fan, Ming Liu and Brittany Wolfe-Bryant
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(12), 6142; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20126142 - 16 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1425
Abstract
Microplastic (MP) pollution is a growing global concern—especially in estuarine areas that serve as natural habitats and nurseries for many marine organisms. One such marine organism is the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), which is a reef-forming keystone species in the Chesapeake [...] Read more.
Microplastic (MP) pollution is a growing global concern—especially in estuarine areas that serve as natural habitats and nurseries for many marine organisms. One such marine organism is the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), which is a reef-forming keystone species in the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States. To understand the potential impacts of MP pollution on the estuary ecosystem, the effects of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) MPs on Eastern oyster larval survival and development were investigated. Three cohorts of larvae were exposed to HDPE MPs with a size of 10–90 µm at a 10 mg/L concentration, after 7 to 11 days of fertilization. After exposure, the number and size of oyster larvae were measured twice a week for approximately 2 weeks until larval settlement. The experiment found that there were no significant differences in the rate of survival between the control and MP-addition treatments. However, we noticed that larval development was significantly delayed with the MP treatment. The percentage of larvae that were ready to settle was 64% with the control treatment compared to 43.5% with the MP treatment. This delay in growth resulted in a delayed larval settlement, which could adversely affect the survival of the Eastern oyster due to the increased risk of predation. The current study demonstrates that MPs could be a risk to the ecology of estuaries, and plastic pollution management is needed for the preservation of these estuaries. Full article
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15 pages, 366 KiB  
Article
Community-Centered Assessment to Inform Pandemic Response in Georgia (US)
by Tabia Henry Akintobi, Rakale C. Quarells, Robert A. Bednarczyk, Saadia Khizer, Brittany D. Taylor, Michelle N. A. Nwagwu, Mekhi Hill, Claudia E. Ordóñez, Gaëlle Sabben, Sedessie Spivey, Kayla Davis, Michael L. Best, Amy Z. Chen, Katherine Lovell, Leslie S. Craig and Mohamed Mubasher
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(9), 5741; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20095741 - 8 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1633
Abstract
The Georgia Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities Project conducts community-engaged research and outreach to address misinformation and mistrust, to promote inclusion of diverse racial and ethnic populations in clinical trials and increase testing and vaccination uptake. Guided by its Community Coalition [...] Read more.
The Georgia Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities Project conducts community-engaged research and outreach to address misinformation and mistrust, to promote inclusion of diverse racial and ethnic populations in clinical trials and increase testing and vaccination uptake. Guided by its Community Coalition Board, The GEORGIA CEAL Survey was administered among Black and Latinx Georgia 18 years and older to learn about community knowledge, perceptions, understandings, and behaviors regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Survey dissemination occurred using survey links generated through Qualtrics and disseminated among board members and other statewide networks. Characteristics of focus counties were (a) highest proportion of 18 years and older Black and Latinx residents; (b) lowest COVID-19 testing rates; and (c) highest SVI values. The final sample included 2082 surveyed respondents. The majority of participants were men (57.1%) and Latinx (62.8%). Approximately half of the sample was aged 18–30 (49.2%); the mean age of the sample was 33.2 years (SD = 9.0), ranging from 18 to 82 years of age. Trusted sources of COVID-19 information that significantly predicted the likelihood of vaccination included their doctor/health care provider (p-value: 0.0054), a clinic (p-value: 0.006), and university hospitals (p-value: 0.0024). Latinx/non-Latinx, Blacks vs. Latinx, Whites were significantly less likely to get tested and/or vaccinated. Non-Latinx, Blacks had higher mean knowledge scores than Latinx, Whites (12.1 vs. 10.9, p < 0.001) and Latinx, Blacks (12.1 vs. 9.6, respectively, p < 0.001). The mean knowledge score was significantly lower in men compared to women (10.3 vs. 11.0, p = 0.001), in those who had been previously tested for COVID-19 compared to those who had never been tested (10.5 vs. 11.5, respectively, p = 0.005), and in those who did not receive any dose of vaccination compared to those who were fully vaccinated (10.0 vs. 11.0, respectively, p < 0.001). These data provide a benchmark for future comparisons of the trajectory of public attitudes and practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also point to the importance of tailoring communication strategies to specific cultural, racial, and ethnic groups to ensure that community-specific barriers to and determinants of health-seeking behaviors are appropriately addressed. Full article
12 pages, 1954 KiB  
Article
The Role of Mock Reviewing Sessions in the National Research Mentoring Network Strategic Empowerment Tailored for Health Equity Investigators: A Randomized Controlled Study
by Mohamed Mubasher, Thomas Pearson, Muhammed Y. Idris, Kimberly Lawson, Jada Holmes, Priscilla Pemu, Adriana Baez, Jonathan K. Stiles, Maritza S. Salazar, Winston E. Thompson, Alexander Quarshie, Lee S. Caplan, Yulia Strekalova and Elizabeth Ofili
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(9), 5738; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20095738 - 8 May 2023
Viewed by 1798
Abstract
The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Strategic Empowerment Tailored for Health Equity Investigators (SETH) study evaluates the value of adding Developmental Network to Coaching in the career advancement of diverse Early-Stage Investigators (ESIs). Focused NIH-formatted Mock Reviewing Sessions (MRS) prior to the submission [...] Read more.
The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Strategic Empowerment Tailored for Health Equity Investigators (SETH) study evaluates the value of adding Developmental Network to Coaching in the career advancement of diverse Early-Stage Investigators (ESIs). Focused NIH-formatted Mock Reviewing Sessions (MRS) prior to the submission of grants can significantly enhance the scientific merits of an ESI’s grant application. We evaluated the most prevalent design, analysis-related factors, and the likelihood of grant submissions and awards associated with going through MRS, using descriptive statistics, Chi-square, and logistic regression methods. A total of 62 out of 234 applications went through the MRS. There were 69.4% that pursued R grants, 22.6% career development (K) awards, and 8.0% other grant mechanisms. Comparing applications that underwent MRS versus those that did not (N = 172), 67.7% vs. 38.4% were submitted for funding (i.e., unadjusted difference of 29.3%; OR = 4.8, 95% CI = (2.4, 9.8), p-value < 0.0001). This indicates that, relative to those who did not undergo MRS, ESIs who did, were 4.8 times as likely to submit an application for funding. Also, ESIs in earlier cohorts (1–2) (a period that coincided with the pre COVID-19 era) as compared to those who were recruited at later cohorts (3–4) (i.e., during the peak of COVID-19 period) were 3.8 times as likely to submit grants (p-value < 0.0001). The most prevalent issues that were identified included insufficient statistical design considerations and plans (75%), conceptual framework (28.3%), specific aims (11.7%), evidence of significance (3.3%), and innovation (3.3%). MRS potentially enhances grant submissions for extramural funding and offers constructive feedback allowing for modifications that enhance the scientific merits of research grants. Full article
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12 pages, 338 KiB  
Article
Associations of Content and Context of Communication with Prostate-Specific Antigen Testing
by Nicholas A. Alford, Manasicha Wongpaiboon, John S. Luque, Cynthia M. Harris and Rima H. Tawk
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(9), 5721; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20095721 - 4 May 2023
Viewed by 1560
Abstract
There is limited research about the content and context of communication on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing among men in the state of Florida. The purpose of this study is to understand how the content communication (discussion of advantages and disadvantages of PSA testing [...] Read more.
There is limited research about the content and context of communication on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing among men in the state of Florida. The purpose of this study is to understand how the content communication (discussion of advantages and disadvantages of PSA testing between provider and patient; provider recommendations of PSA testing) and the context of communication (continuity of care denoted by the presence of a personal doctor) influence PSA testing. Data were drawn from the Florida Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Receipt of PSA testing was the primary outcome. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to adjust for sociodemographic, clinical, healthcare access, and lifestyle characteristics when associating the content and context of communication with PSA testing. Discussions were classified into four mutually exclusive categories: discussions of advantages and disadvantages, only advantages, only disadvantages, and no discussion. The most significant predictors for PSA testing included physician recommendation, discussions including advantages, older age, non-smoking, and having a personal doctor. Individualized PSA screening may be a pathway to reducing racial disparities in screening for prostate cancer (PCa) and, by extension, lower incidence and mortality rates. Developing a bill to create an Office of Men’s Health at Health & Human Services is recommended. Full article
14 pages, 1304 KiB  
Article
Influence of Mask Wearing during COVID-19 Surge and Non-Surge Time Periods in Two K-12 Public School Districts in Georgia, USA
by Xiting Lin, Fatima Ali, Traci Leong, Mike Edelson, Samira Hampton, Zoey Zuo, Chaohua Li, Chris Rice, Fengxia Yan, Peter T. Baltrus, Sonya Randolph and Lilly Cheng Immergluck
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(9), 5715; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20095715 - 4 May 2023
Viewed by 1500
Abstract
Background: Into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the second year of in-person learning for many K-12 schools in the United States, the benefits of mitigation strategies in this setting are still unclear. We compare COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and [...] Read more.
Background: Into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the second year of in-person learning for many K-12 schools in the United States, the benefits of mitigation strategies in this setting are still unclear. We compare COVID-19 cases in school-aged children and adolescents between a school district with a mandatory mask-wearing policy to one with an optional mask-wearing policy, during and after the peak period of the Delta variant wave of infection. Methods: COVID-19 cases during the Delta variant wave (August 2021) and post the wave (October 2021) were obtained from public health records. Cases of K-12 students, stratified by grade level (elementary, middle, and high school) and school districts across two counties, were included in the statistical and spatial analyses. COVID-19 case rates were determined and spatially mapped. Regression was performed adjusting for specific covariates. Results: Mask-wearing was associated with lower COVID-19 cases during the peak Delta variant period; overall, regardless of the Delta variant period, higher COVID-19 rates were seen in older aged students. Conclusion: This study highlights the need for more layered prevention strategies and policies that take into consideration local community transmission levels, age of students, and vaccination coverage to ensure that students remain safe at school while optimizing their learning environment. Full article
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11 pages, 837 KiB  
Article
Individual and Institutional Factors Contribute to Research Capacity Building for Early-Stage Investigators from Groups Underrepresented in Biomedical Research: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis
by Yulia A. Levites Strekalova, Diana L. Kornetti, Ruixuan Wang, Adriana Báez, Lee S. Caplan, Muhammed Y. Idris, Kimberly Lawson, Jada Holmes, Mohamed Mubasher, Priscilla Pemu, Jonathan K. Stiles, Maritza Salazar Campo, Alexander Quarshie, Thomas Pearson and Elizabeth O. Ofili
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(9), 5662; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20095662 - 27 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1273
Abstract
Background: Enhancement of diversity within the U.S. research workforce is a recognized need and priority at a national level. Existing comprehensive programs, such as the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI), have the dual focus of building [...] Read more.
Background: Enhancement of diversity within the U.S. research workforce is a recognized need and priority at a national level. Existing comprehensive programs, such as the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI), have the dual focus of building institutional research capacity and promoting investigator self-efficacy through mentoring and training. Methods: A qualitative comparative analysis was used to identify the combination of factors that explain the success and failure to submit a grant proposal by investigators underrepresented in biomedical research from the RCMI and non-RCMI institutions. The records of 211 participants enrolled in the NRMN Strategic Empowerment Tailored for Health Equity Investigators (NRMN-SETH) program were reviewed, and data for 79 early-stage, underrepresented faculty investigators from RCMI (n = 23) and non-RCMI (n = 56) institutions were included. Results: Institutional membership (RCMI vs. non-RCMI) was used as a possible predictive factor and emerged as a contributing factor for all of the analyses. Access to local mentors was predictive of a successful grant submission for RCMI investigators, while underrepresented investigators at non-RCMI institutions who succeeded with submitting grants still lacked access to local mentors. Conclusion: Institutional contexts contribute to the grant writing experiences of investigators underrepresented in biomedical research. Full article
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12 pages, 339 KiB  
Article
A Qualitative Approach to Explore Perceptions, Opinions and Beliefs of Communities who Experienced Health Disparities towards Chronic Health Conditions
by Jacob C. Matos-Castro, Axel Ramos-Lucca, Ashley A. Rosa-Jiménez, Alessandra M. Beauchamp-Lebrón, Jorge L. Motta-Pagán, Luisa M. Morales-Torres, Eida Castro-Figueroa, Fernando J. Rosario-Maldonado, David A. Vélez-Maldonado, Dorimar Rodríguez-Torruella, Gloria Asencio-Toro, Melissa Marzán-Rodríguez and Julio Jiménez-Chávez
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(8), 5572; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20085572 - 19 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1893
Abstract
The prevalence of chronic medical conditions is associated with biological, behavioral, and social factors. In Puerto Rico (PR), events such as budget cuts to essential services in recent years have contributed to deepening health disparities. This study aimed to explore community perceptions, opinions, [...] Read more.
The prevalence of chronic medical conditions is associated with biological, behavioral, and social factors. In Puerto Rico (PR), events such as budget cuts to essential services in recent years have contributed to deepening health disparities. This study aimed to explore community perceptions, opinions, and beliefs about chronic health conditions in the southern region of Puerto Rico. Framed by a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach, this qualitative study developed eight focus groups (n = 59) with adults (age of 21 or older) from southern Puerto Rico, in person and remotely, during 2020 and 2021. Eight open-ended questions were used for discussions, which were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed via computer analysis. Content analysis revealed four main dimensions: knowledge, vulnerabilities, barriers, and identified resources. Relevant topics included: concerns about mental health—depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicide; individual vulnerabilities—risk behaviors, and unhealthy habits; economic factors—health access and commercialization of health. Resource identification was also explored, and participants discussed the importance of alliances between public and private sectors. These topics were addressed across all focus groups, with various recommendations. The results highlight the importance of prioritizing identified community needs, evaluating available resources, and promoting tailored-made interventions to reduce risk factors for chronic health conditions. Full article
22 pages, 1982 KiB  
Article
“Know Your Children, Who They Are, Their Weakness, and Their Strongest Point”: A Qualitative Study on Diné Parent Experiences Accessing Autism Services for Their Children
by Olivia J. Lindly, Davis E. Henderson, Christine B. Vining, Candi L. Running Bear, Sara S. Nozadi and Shannon Bia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(8), 5523; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20085523 - 14 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2431
Abstract
Background and Objective: Marked inequities in access to autism services and related health outcomes persist for U.S. children, undermining broader initiatives to advance the population’s health. At the intersection of culture, poverty, and ruralness little remains known about autism in many Indigenous communities. [...] Read more.
Background and Objective: Marked inequities in access to autism services and related health outcomes persist for U.S. children, undermining broader initiatives to advance the population’s health. At the intersection of culture, poverty, and ruralness little remains known about autism in many Indigenous communities. This qualitative study on the lived experiences of Navajo (Diné) parents raising a child with autism sought to identify factors affecting access to services. Methods: A Diné researcher conducted in-depth interviews with 15 Diné parents of children with autism living in or around the Navajo Nation. A directed content analysis approach was used to identify themes, subthemes, and connections between themes. Results: Twelve overarching themes emerged on Diné parents’ experiences accessing autism diagnostic and treatment services, as well as ways access to autism services can be improved. The following themes were related to diagnosis: the diagnostic process was often emotionally fraught; long wait times of up to years for diagnostic services were commonplace; limited clinician training and cultural humility impeded access to diagnostic services; and adequate health insurance, Indian Health Service referrals, care coordination, financial aid for travel, and efficient evaluation facilitated diagnosis. Themes on treatment access were as follows: parent perceptions of the extent to which an autism service helped their child affected access; social support helped parents to access treatment; obtaining referrals and care coordination influenced treatment access; treatment costs affected access; and service availability and geographic proximity impacted treatment access. Themes on ways to improve access to autism services were as follows: greater autism awareness is needed; autism-focused support groups may be helpful; and increased availability and quality of autism services across and around the Navajo Nation is paramount. Conclusions: Diné parents’ access to autism services was dynamically affected by sociocultural factors that must be addressed in future health equity-oriented initiatives. Full article
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14 pages, 7455 KiB  
Article
Genomic Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 Variants in the Dominican Republic and Emergence of a Local Lineage
by Robert Paulino-Ramírez, Pablo López, Sayira Mueses, Paula Cuevas, Maridania Jabier and Vanessa Rivera-Amill
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(8), 5503; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20085503 - 13 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2028
Abstract
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an RNA virus that evolves over time, leading to new variants. In the current study, we assessed the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in the Dominican Republic. A total of 1149 SARS-CoV-2 complete genome nucleotide sequences [...] Read more.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an RNA virus that evolves over time, leading to new variants. In the current study, we assessed the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in the Dominican Republic. A total of 1149 SARS-CoV-2 complete genome nucleotide sequences from samples collected between March 2020 and mid-February 2022 in the Dominican Republic were obtained from the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) database. Phylogenetic relationships and evolution rates were analyzed using the maximum likelihood method and the Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) approach. The genotyping details (lineages) were obtained using the Pangolin web application. In addition, the web tools Coronapp, and Genome Detective Viral Tools, among others, were used to monitor epidemiological characteristics. Our results show that the most frequent non-synonymous mutation over the study period was D614G. Of the 1149 samples, 870 (75.74%) were classified into 8 relevant variants according to Pangolin/Scorpio. The first Variants Being Monitored (VBM) were detected in December 2020. Meanwhile, in 2021, the variants of concern Delta and Omicron were identified. The mean mutation rate was estimated to be 1.5523 × 10−3 (95% HPD: 1.2358 × 10−3, 1.8635 × 10−3) nucleotide substitutions per site. We also report the emergence of an autochthonous SARS-CoV-2 lineage, B.1.575.2, that circulated from October 2021 to January 2022, in co-circulation with the variants of concern Delta and Omicron. The impact of B.1.575.2 in the Dominican Republic was minimal, but it then expanded rapidly in Spain. A better understanding of viral evolution and genomic surveillance data will help to inform strategies to mitigate the impact on public health. Full article
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10 pages, 304 KiB  
Article
Health Disparities Investigator Development through a Team-Science Pilot Projects Program
by Jerris R. Hedges, Dominic C. Chow, Benjamin Fogelgren, Kathryn L. Braun, JoAnn U. Tsark, Susan Ordinado, Marla J. Berry, Richard Yanagihara and Noreen Mokuau
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(7), 5336; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20075336 - 30 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1325
Abstract
Profound health disparities are widespread among Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos in Hawai‘i. Efforts to reduce and eliminate health disparities are limited by a shortage of investigators trained in addressing the genetic, socio economic, and environmental factors that contribute to disparities. [...] Read more.
Profound health disparities are widespread among Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos in Hawai‘i. Efforts to reduce and eliminate health disparities are limited by a shortage of investigators trained in addressing the genetic, socio economic, and environmental factors that contribute to disparities. In this conference proceedings report from the 2022 RCMI Consortium National Conference, we describe our mentoring program, with an emphasis on community-engaged research. Elements include our encouragement of a team-science, customized Pilot Projects Program (PPP), a Mentoring Bootcamp, and a mentoring support network. During 2017–2022, we received 102 PPP preproposals. Of these, 45 (48%) were invited to submit full proposals, and 22 (19%) were awarded (8 basic biomedical, 7 clinical, 7 behavioral). Eighty-three percent of awards were made to early-career faculty (31% ethnic minority, 72% women). These 22 awards generated 77 related publications; 84 new grants were submitted, of which 31 were awarded with a resultant return on investment of 5.9. From 5 to 11 investigators were supported by PPP awards each year. A robust usage of core services was observed. Our descriptive report (as part of a scientific conference session on RCMI specialized centers) focuses on a mentoring vehicle and shows how it can support early-stage investigators in pursuing careers in health disparities research. Full article
14 pages, 666 KiB  
Article
Engaging Youth and Young Adults in the COVID-19 Pandemic Response via the “It’s Our Turn” Crowdsourcing Contest
by Linnea A. Evans, Omar Gomez, Dulce J. Jiménez, Heather J. Williamson, Ann Turnlund Carver, Sairam Parthasarathy and Samantha Sabo
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(6), 5112; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20065112 - 14 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1804
Abstract
As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continued to progress into 2021, appeals were made to take a stronger focus on the perceptions and practices of youth and young adults (YYAs) regarding COVID-19 mitigation, as well as the impact of mitigation strategies on the [...] Read more.
As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continued to progress into 2021, appeals were made to take a stronger focus on the perceptions and practices of youth and young adults (YYAs) regarding COVID-19 mitigation, as well as the impact of mitigation strategies on the overall wellbeing of YYAs. In this paper, we describe our efforts to increase YYA engagement in Arizona’s COVID-19 response by pairing embedded values from youth participatory action research (YPAR) with a crowdsourcing challenge contest design. The research protocol and implementation are described, followed by a thematic analysis of YYA-led messaging portrayed in 23 contest submissions and reflections formed by 223 community voters after viewing contest submissions. The authors conclude that a YYA-led crowdsourcing contest presented an opportunity to (a.) investigate the perceptions and behaviors of YYAs and their networks regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation efforts and (b.) amplify the voices of YYAs in the pandemic response. Perhaps even more importantly, this approach also offered insight into the exacerbated impact of the pandemic on YYA mental health and wellbeing, and the utility of YPAR in raising awareness of these effects among the contexts and social networks of YYAs. Full article
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8 pages, 303 KiB  
Article
Strategic Team Science Promotes Collaboration and Practice-Based Research at the Research Centers in Minority Institutions
by Yulia A. Levites Strekalova, Diana L. Kornetti, Priscilla Pemu, Tandeca King Gordon, Deepak Kumar, Michelle Brown, Shelley Spires and Elizabeth O. Ofili
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(6), 4800; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20064800 - 9 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1473
Abstract
Background. This paper reports on the implementation and evaluation of a strategy to promote collaborations and team science among investigators at the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI). The strategy presented in this paper was a hands-on workshop that allowed the application of [...] Read more.
Background. This paper reports on the implementation and evaluation of a strategy to promote collaborations and team science among investigators at the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI). The strategy presented in this paper was a hands-on workshop that allowed the application of strategic team science through structured dialogue, asset sharing, and systematic exploration of opportunities for collaboration. Methods. The workshop was attended by more than 100 participants, including RCMI and non-RCMI investigators, practice-based research network (PBRN) supplement program directors, and an NIH Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Program Officer. Results. A post-workshop survey was administered to collect participant feedback, assess the relevance of the workshop to the participants’ professional development goals, and gauge the applicability of the tool as a support strategy to promote collaborative research. Most of the participants acknowledged that the session met the conference objectives (95.8%), and 93.7% noted that the workshop, to a high degree, met their personal goals and objectives. During the workshop, participants shared 35 resources they were willing and able to offer for prospective collaborative projects. Conclusion. The experience reported and evaluated in this paper paves the way to understanding methods for disseminating effective strategies for inter-institutional collaborations for the sustainable growth and operation of PBRNs. Full article
11 pages, 1318 KiB  
Article
A Case Study of Enhancing the Data Science Capacity of an RCMI Program at a Historically Black Medical College
by Qingguo Wang, Vibhuti Gupta, Aize Cao, Ashutosh Singhal, Todd Gary and Samuel E. Adunyah
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(6), 4775; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20064775 - 8 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1417
Abstract
As data grows exponentially across diverse fields, the ability to effectively leverage big data has become increasingly crucial. In the field of data science, however, minority groups, including African Americans, are significantly underrepresented. With the strategic role of minority-serving institutions to enhance diversity [...] Read more.
As data grows exponentially across diverse fields, the ability to effectively leverage big data has become increasingly crucial. In the field of data science, however, minority groups, including African Americans, are significantly underrepresented. With the strategic role of minority-serving institutions to enhance diversity in the data science workforce and apply data science to health disparities, the National Institute for Minority Health Disparities (NIMHD) provided funding in September 2021 to six Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) to improve their data science capacity and foster collaborations with data scientists. Meharry Medical College (MMC), a historically Black College/University (HBCU), was among the six awardees. This paper summarizes the NIMHD-funded efforts at MMC, which include offering mini-grants to collaborative research groups, surveys to understand the needs of the community to guide project implementation, and data science training to enhance the data analytics skills of the RCMI investigators, staff, medical residents, and graduate students. This study is innovative as it addressed the urgent need to enhance the data science capacity of the RCMI program at MMC, build a diverse data science workforce, and develop collaborations between the RCMI and MMC’s newly established School of Applied Computational Science. This paper presents the progress of this NIMHD-funded project, which clearly shows its positive impact on the local community. Full article
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11 pages, 361 KiB  
Article
Impact of COVID-19 on the Research Career Advancement of Health Equity Scholars from Diverse Backgrounds
by Adriana Báez, Muhammed Y. Idris, Kimberly Lawson, Mohamed Mubasher, Yulia Strekalova, Keith Green, Priscilla Pemu, Jonathan K. Stiles, Martiza Salazar, Alexander Quarshie, Lee S. Caplan, Ernest Alema-Mensah, Thomas Pearson, Jessica Faupel-Badger, Jeffrey A. Engler and Elizabeth O. Ofili
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(6), 4750; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20064750 - 8 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1556
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly taxed scientific research and seems to have exacerbated existing inequities within the research field, particularly for early-stage investigators (ESIs). This study examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on traditionally underrepresented ESIs enrolled in an NIH-supported study evaluating [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly taxed scientific research and seems to have exacerbated existing inequities within the research field, particularly for early-stage investigators (ESIs). This study examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on traditionally underrepresented ESIs enrolled in an NIH-supported study evaluating the effectiveness of developmental networks, grant writing coaching, and mentoring on research career advancement. The survey consisted of 24 closed-ended (quantitative) and 4 open-ended questions (qualitative) linked to a participant’s ability to meet grant submission deadlines, research and professional development disruptions, stress level, career transition level, self-efficacy and management of scholarly tasks, and familial responsibilities. Results from 32 respondents (53%) suggest that COVID-19 adversely impacted the continuity of research (81%) and grant submissions (63%). On average, grant submissions were delayed by 6.69 months (i.e., greater than one grant cycle). We also conducted additional analyses characterizing nonresponse and found that there were no significant predictors of nonresponse, indicating a limited threat to the validity of our findings. The disruption caused by COVID-19 to the careers of ESIs from underrepresented groups in the biomedical workforce has been profound in the short term. The long-term consequences to the future success of these groups are unknown but is a worthwhile area of research and potential innovation. Full article
14 pages, 3059 KiB  
Article
Predicting Low-Level Childhood Lead Exposure in Metro Atlanta Using Ensemble Machine Learning of High-Resolution Raster Cells
by Seth Frndak, Fengxia Yan, Mike Edelson, Lilly Cheng Immergluck, Katarzyna Kordas, Muhammed Y. Idris and Carmen M. Dickinson-Copeland
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(5), 4477; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20054477 - 2 Mar 2023
Viewed by 2011
Abstract
Low-level lead exposure in children is a major public health issue. Higher-resolution spatial targeting would significantly improve county and state-wide policies and programs for lead exposure prevention that generally intervene across large geographic areas. We use stack-ensemble machine learning, including an elastic net [...] Read more.
Low-level lead exposure in children is a major public health issue. Higher-resolution spatial targeting would significantly improve county and state-wide policies and programs for lead exposure prevention that generally intervene across large geographic areas. We use stack-ensemble machine learning, including an elastic net generalized linear model, gradient-boosted machine, and deep neural network, to predict the number of children with venous blood lead levels (BLLs) ≥2 to <5 µg/dL and ≥5 µg/dL in ~1 km2 raster cells in the metro Atlanta region using a sample of 92,792 children ≤5 years old screened between 2010 and 2018. Permutation-based predictor importance and partial dependence plots were used for interpretation. Maps of predicted vs. observed values were generated to compare model performance. According to the EPA Toxic Release Inventory for air-based toxic release facility density, the percentage of the population below the poverty threshold, crime, and road network density was positively associated with the number of children with low-level lead exposure, whereas the percentage of the white population was inversely associated. While predictions generally matched observed values, cells with high counts of lead exposure were underestimated. High-resolution geographic prediction of lead-exposed children using ensemble machine learning is a promising approach to enhance lead prevention efforts. Full article
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14 pages, 359 KiB  
Article
Importance of Communication Skills Training and Meaning Centered Psychotherapy Concepts among Patients and Caregivers Coping with Advanced Cancer
by Normarie Torres-Blasco, Lianel Rosario-Ramos, Maria Elena Navedo, Cristina Peña-Vargas, Rosario Costas-Muñiz and Eida Castro-Figueroa
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(5), 4458; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20054458 - 2 Mar 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1812
Abstract
Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer and have specific existential and communication needs. Concepts within Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy (MCP) interventions and Communications Skills Training (CST) assist patients in attending to these needs. However, Latino-tailored MCP interventions have yet to be [...] Read more.
Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer and have specific existential and communication needs. Concepts within Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy (MCP) interventions and Communications Skills Training (CST) assist patients in attending to these needs. However, Latino-tailored MCP interventions have yet to be adapted for advanced cancer patients and caregivers. A cross-sectional survey was administered to Latino advanced cancer patients and caregivers where participants rated the importance of the goals and concepts of MCP and CST. Fifty-seven (n = 57) Latino advanced cancer patients and fifty-seven (n = 57) caregivers completed the survey. Most participants rated MCP concepts as extremely important, ranging from 73.75% to 95.5%. Additionally, 86.8% favored finding meaning in their life after a cancer diagnosis. Participants (80.7%) also selected the concept of finding and maintaining hope to cope with their cancer diagnosis. Finally, participants found CST concepts and skills acceptable, ranging from 81.6% to 91.2%. Results indicate the acceptability of Meaning-Centered Therapy and Communication Skills Training among Latino advanced cancer patients and caregivers coping with advanced cancer. These results will inform the topics to be discussed in a culturally adapted psychosocial intervention for advanced cancer patients and their informal caregivers. Full article
9 pages, 515 KiB  
Article
Preventive Measures among Healthcare Workers (HCWs) during the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Robert Rodríguez-González, Aleksis Galloza, Edgar J. Medina, Valeria Oliver, Natalia I. Rodríguez, Elizabeth Ramos-Colón, Mileily Velázquez-Ferrer, Dayaneira Rivera-Alers, Wanda Vargas and Vanessa Rivera-Amill
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(5), 4434; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20054434 - 2 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1726
Abstract
COVID-19, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), placed health systems worldwide under immense pressure, and healthcare workers (HCWs) were at the front lines. The Puerto Rico Department of Health confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in March 2020. We [...] Read more.
COVID-19, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), placed health systems worldwide under immense pressure, and healthcare workers (HCWs) were at the front lines. The Puerto Rico Department of Health confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in March 2020. We aimed to assess whether COVID-19 preventive measures implemented by HCWs were effective in a work scenario before vaccine availability. We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study from July to December 2020 to evaluate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene guidelines, and other measures taken by HCWs to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2. We collected nasopharyngeal specimens for molecular testing at the beginning of the study and follow-up. We recruited 62 participants aged 30–59 (79% women). Participants recruited from hospitals, clinical laboratories, and private practice included medical technologists (33%), nurses (28%), respiratory therapists (2%), physicians (11%), and others (26%). Among our participants, nurses were at higher risk (p < 0.05) of infection. We identified that 87% of participants followed the hygiene recommendation guidelines. In addition, all participants practiced handwashing or disinfection before or after caring for each patient. All participants tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 during the study period. On follow-up, all study participants reported being vaccinated against COVID-19. The implementation of PPE and hygiene measures showed high efficacy as a prevention method against SARS-CoV-2 infection when vaccines and treatment were not widely available in Puerto Rico. Full article
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9 pages, 329 KiB  
Article
Community Health Representatives as Trusted Sources for Increasing Representation of American Indian Communities in Clinical Research
by Samantha Sabo, Naomi Lee, Grant Sears, Dulce J. Jiménez, Marissa Tutt, Jeffersson Santos, Omar Gomez, Nicolette Teufel-Shone, Marianne Bennet, J. T. Neva Nashio, Fernando Flores and Julie Baldwin
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(5), 4391; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20054391 - 1 Mar 2023
Viewed by 2225
Abstract
Indigenous and American Indian Alaskan Native (AI/AN) community members are systematically underrepresented in clinical trial research. This paper focuses on exploratory steps to partner with Native Nations of Arizona to engage Community Health Representatives (CHR) as a trusted source for building COVID-19 clinical [...] Read more.
Indigenous and American Indian Alaskan Native (AI/AN) community members are systematically underrepresented in clinical trial research. This paper focuses on exploratory steps to partner with Native Nations of Arizona to engage Community Health Representatives (CHR) as a trusted source for building COVID-19 clinical trial research, including vaccine trials awareness. CHRs are frontline public health workers who apply a unique understanding of the experience, language, and culture of the population served. This workforce has entered the spotlight as essential to the prevention and control of COVID-19. Methods: Three Tribal CHR programs were engaged to develop and refine culturally centered educational materials and a pre-post survey using a consensus-based decision-making approach. CHRs used these materials in brief education sessions during regular client home visits and community events. Results: At 30 days post CHR intervention, participants (N = 165) demonstrated significantly increased awareness about and ability to enroll in COVID-19 treatment and vaccine trials. Participants also described a significant increase in trust in researchers, decreased perceived barriers related to cost for participation in a clinical trial, and improved belief that participation in a COVID-19 clinical trial for treatment was considered a benefit to American Indian and Alaskan Native people. Conclusion: CHRs as trusted sources of information, coupled with culturally centered education materials designed by CHRs for CHR clients, demonstrated a promising approach to improved awareness of clinical trial research generally and COVID-19 trials specifically among Indigenous and American Indian community members of Arizona. Full article
19 pages, 1339 KiB  
Article
COVID-19 Vaccination: Comparison of Attitudes, Decision-Making Processes, and Communication among Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Black Americans
by Jennifer Cunningham-Erves, Whitney George, Elizabeth C. Stewart, Alison Footman, Jamaine Davis, Maureen Sanderson, Meredith Smalls, Phillip Morris, Kristin Clarkson, Omaran Lee and Heather M. Brandt
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(4), 3481; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20043481 - 16 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2288
Abstract
Background: COVID-19 vaccination rates remain suboptimal among Black Americans who disproportionately experience higher hospitalization and death rates than White Americans. Methods: We conducted a multi-method (interviews and surveys) study among 30 Black Americans (n = 16 vaccinated, n = 14 unvaccinated) to [...] Read more.
Background: COVID-19 vaccination rates remain suboptimal among Black Americans who disproportionately experience higher hospitalization and death rates than White Americans. Methods: We conducted a multi-method (interviews and surveys) study among 30 Black Americans (n = 16 vaccinated, n = 14 unvaccinated) to explore factors related to vaccination hesitancy, decision-making processes, and communication related to uptake. Participants were recruited by using community-driven approaches, including partner collaborations. Thematic analysis was used to analyze qualitative data, and descriptive and bivariate analysis was used for quantitative data. Results: Of those unvaccinated, 79% (n = 11) stated they were delaying and 21% (n = 3) were declining vaccination indefinitely. When asked about the likelihood of vaccine initiation in 6 months and 12 months, 29% (n = 4) and 36% (n = 5), respectively, stated that they would receive the vaccine. The following themes emerged: (1) COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy exists on a continuum; (2) varied decision-making processes for COVID-19 vaccination; (3) motivators among vaccinated individuals; (4) barriers among unvaccinated individuals; (5) retrieving and navigating vaccine information within the COVID-19 infodemic; and (6) parent perspectives on child vaccination. Conclusions: Findings suggest that vaccinated and unvaccinated participants had similar and dissimilar perspectives in decision-making processes and vaccine concerns as shown in the Decision-making Processes for the COVID-19 vaccination (DePC) model. Based on these findings, future studies should further explore how factors influencing decision-making can lead to divergent outcomes for COVID-19 vaccination. Full article
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24 pages, 1019 KiB  
Article
Exploring COVID-19 Vaccine Attitudes among Racially and Ethnically Minoritized Communities: Community Partners’ and Residents’ Perspectives
by Isabel Martinez Leal, Journa Njoh, Tzuan A. Chen, Faith Foreman-Hays, Brian C. Reed, Sean A. Haley, Kerry Chavez, Lorraine R. Reitzel and Ezemenari M. Obasi
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(4), 3372; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20043372 - 14 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2148
Abstract
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, yet rates of COVID-19 vaccination remain low among these groups. A qualitative study was undertaken to better understand the factors contributing to low vaccine acceptance among these communities. Seventeen focus groups [...] Read more.
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, yet rates of COVID-19 vaccination remain low among these groups. A qualitative study was undertaken to better understand the factors contributing to low vaccine acceptance among these communities. Seventeen focus groups were conducted in English and Spanish from 8/21 to 9/22, with representatives from five critical community sectors: (1) public health departments (n = 1); (2) Federally Qualified Health Centers (n = 2); (3) community-based organizations (n = 1); (4) faith-based organizations (n = 2); and (5) BIPOC residents in six high-risk, underserved communities in metropolitan Houston (n = 11), for a total of 79 participants, comprising 22 community partners and 57 community residents. A social-ecological model and anti-racism framework were adopted to guide data analysis using thematic analysis and constant comparison, which yielded five key themes: (1) legacy of structural racism: distrust and threat; (2) media misinformation: mass and social; (3) listening and adapting to community needs; (4) evolving attitudes towards vaccination; and (5) understanding alternative health belief systems. Although structural racism was a key driver of vaccine uptake, a notable finding indicated community residents’ vaccine attitudes can be changed once they are confident of the protective benefits of vaccination. Study recommendations include adopting an explicitly anti-racist lens to: (1) listen to community members’ needs and concerns, acknowledge their justified institutional distrust concerning vaccines, and learn community members’ healthcare priorities to inform initiatives built on local data; (2) address misinformation via culturally informed, consistent messaging tailored to communal concerns and delivered by trusted local leaders through multimodal community forums; (3) take vaccines to where people live through pop-up clinics, churches, and community centers for distribution via trusted community members, with educational campaigns tailored to the needs of distinct communities; (4) establish vaccine equity task forces to continue developing sustainable policies, structures, programs and practices to address the structural issues driving vaccine and health inequities within BIPOC communities; and (5) continue investing in an effective infrastructure for healthcare education and delivery, essential for competently responding to the ongoing healthcare and other emergency crises that impact BIPOC communities to achieve racial justice and health equity in the US. Findings underscore the crucial need to provide culturally tailored health education and vaccination initiatives, focused on cultural humility, bidirectionality, and mutual respect to support vaccine re-evaluation. Full article
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13 pages, 359 KiB  
Article
A Report on the Ke Ola O Ka ‘Āina: ‘Āina Connectedness Scale
by Mapuana C. K. Antonio, Samantha Keaulana, LeShay Keli‘iholokai, Kaitlynn Felipe, Jetney Kahaulahilahi Vegas, Waimānalo Pono Research Hui, Waimānalo Limu Hui, Ke Ola O Ka ‘Āina Research Team and Thought Partners and Ilima Ho-Lastimosa
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(4), 3302; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20043302 - 13 Feb 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1938
Abstract
Optimal health from a Native Hawaiian worldview is achieved by being pono (righteous) and maintaining lōkahi (balance) with all our relations, including our relationships as Kānaka (humankind) with ‘Āina (land, nature, environment, that which feeds) and Akua (spiritual realm). The purpose of this [...] Read more.
Optimal health from a Native Hawaiian worldview is achieved by being pono (righteous) and maintaining lōkahi (balance) with all our relations, including our relationships as Kānaka (humankind) with ‘Āina (land, nature, environment, that which feeds) and Akua (spiritual realm). The purpose of this study is to explore the role of ‘Āina connectedness in Native Hawaiian health and resilience to inform the development of the ‘Āina Connectedness Scale. Qualitative methods were conducted with 40 Native Hawaiian adults throughout Hawai‘i. Three themes emerged: (1) ‘Āina is everything; (2) Connection to ‘Āina is imperative to health; and (3) Intergenerational health, healing, and resilience are reflected through intergenerational connectedness with ‘Āina. Qualitative findings, supplemented with a scoping review of land, nature, and cultural connectedness scales, led to the development of the ‘Āina Connectedness Scale, which examined the degree to which people feel connected to ‘Āina, with implications for future research. ‘Āina connectedness may address concerns related to health disparities that stem from colonization, historical trauma, and environmental changes and better our understanding of Native Hawaiian health by fostering stronger ties to land. Resilience- and ‘Āina-based approaches are critically important to health equity and interventions that aim to improve Native Hawaiian health. Full article
13 pages, 2760 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of AIML + HDR—A Course to Enhance Data Science Workforce Capacity for Hispanic Biomedical Researchers
by Frances Heredia-Negron, Natalie Alamo-Rodriguez, Lenamari Oyola-Velazquez, Brenda Nieves, Kelvin Carrasquillo, Harry Hochheiser, Brian Fristensky, Istoni Daluz-Santana, Emma Fernandez-Repollet and Abiel Roche-Lima
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(3), 2726; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20032726 - 3 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1732
Abstract
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) facilitate the creation of revolutionary medical techniques. Unfortunately, biases in current AI and ML approaches are perpetuating minority health inequity. One of the strategies to solve this problem is training a diverse workforce. For this reason, [...] Read more.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) facilitate the creation of revolutionary medical techniques. Unfortunately, biases in current AI and ML approaches are perpetuating minority health inequity. One of the strategies to solve this problem is training a diverse workforce. For this reason, we created the course “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning applied to Health Disparities Research (AIML + HDR)” which applied general Data Science (DS) approaches to health disparities research with an emphasis on Hispanic populations. Some technical topics covered included the Jupyter Notebook Framework, coding with R and Python to manipulate data, and ML libraries to create predictive models. Some health disparities topics covered included Electronic Health Records, Social Determinants of Health, and Bias in Data. As a result, the course was taught to 34 selected Hispanic participants and evaluated by a survey on a Likert scale (0–4). The surveys showed high satisfaction (more than 80% of participants agreed) regarding the course organization, activities, and covered topics. The students strongly agreed that the activities were relevant to the course and promoted their learning (3.71 ± 0.21). The students strongly agreed that the course was helpful for their professional development (3.76 ± 0.18). The open question was quantitatively analyzed and showed that seventy-five percent of the comments received from the participants confirmed their great satisfaction. Full article
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14 pages, 3120 KiB  
Article
Stressors and Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Vulnerable Hispanic Caregivers and Children
by Mary Rodríguez-Rabassa, Estefanía Torres-Marrero, Pablo López, Kamalich Muniz-Rodriguez, Marilyn Borges-Rodríguez, Allison A. Appleton, Larissa Avilés-Santa and Luisa I. Alvarado-Domenech
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(3), 1838; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20031838 - 19 Jan 2023
Viewed by 2090
Abstract
Psychological sequelae are important elements of the burden of disease among caregivers. Recognition of the impact of adversity and stress biomarkers is important to prevent mental health problems that affect rearing practices and child well-being. This cross-sectional study explored social determinants of health [...] Read more.
Psychological sequelae are important elements of the burden of disease among caregivers. Recognition of the impact of adversity and stress biomarkers is important to prevent mental health problems that affect rearing practices and child well-being. This cross-sectional study explored social determinants of health (SDoH)-mediated stressors during COVID-19 and risks for mental health problems among caregivers of children with prenatal Zika virus exposure. Twenty-five Hispanic caregivers completed surveys assessing SDoH vulnerabilities, COVID-exposures and impact, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology, and provided a hair sample for cortisol concentration (HCC). Most caregivers had low education, household income < $15,000/year, and were unemployed. Stressors included disrupted child education and specialized services, and food insecurity. While most reported PTSD symptomatology, multivariate linear regression models adjusted for the caregiver’s age, education, and the child’s sex, revealed that caregivers with high symptomatology had significantly lower HCC than those with low symptomatology and those with food insecurity had significantly higher HCC than participants without food insecurity. The impact of COVID-19 on daily life was characterized on average between worse and better, suggesting variability in susceptibility and coping mechanisms, with the most resilient identifying community support and spirituality resources. SDoH-mediators provide opportunities to prevent adverse mental health outcomes for caregivers and their children. Full article
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16 pages, 508 KiB  
Article
Encouraging and Reinforcing Safe Breastfeeding Practices during the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Flora Ukoli, Jacinta Leavell, Amasyah Mayo, Jayla Moore, Nia Nchami and Allysceaeioun Britt
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(3), 1756; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20031756 - 18 Jan 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2239
Abstract
Aim: Promote safe breastfeeding during the pandemic. Methods: All participants were encouraged to request safe breastfeeding education from their prenatal provider. Pregnant mothers received appropriate breastfeeding and COVID-19 safe breastfeeding education in line with the CDC’s COVID-19 breastfeeding guidelines. Data were obtained from [...] Read more.
Aim: Promote safe breastfeeding during the pandemic. Methods: All participants were encouraged to request safe breastfeeding education from their prenatal provider. Pregnant mothers received appropriate breastfeeding and COVID-19 safe breastfeeding education in line with the CDC’s COVID-19 breastfeeding guidelines. Data were obtained from 39 mothers attending Nashville General Hospital pediatric well-baby clinics (Group I: from December 2019 to June 2020) and 97 pregnant women attending prenatal clinics (Group II: from July 2020 to August 2021). Results: The participants’ ages ranged from 15 to 45 years, with a mean of 27.5 ± 6.2. The women in both groups were similar in age, education, employment, and breastfeeding experience. They were equally unlikely to use face masks at home even while receiving guests or holding their babies. Although 121 (89.0%) women claimed face mask use while shopping, the rate for never doing so was 7 (18.0%) vs. 8 (8.3%) (p < 0.006) for Groups I and II, respectively. Safe practices included limited outing (66 (48.5%)), sanitized hands (62 (45.6%)), restricted visitors (44 (32.4%)), and limited baby outing (27 (19.9%)), and 8 (8.3%) in Group II received COVID-19 vaccinations. About half described fair and accurate COVID-19 safe breastfeeding knowledge, but 22 (30.1%) of them claimed they received no information. Breastfeeding contraindication awareness for Groups I and II were as follows: cocaine = 53.8% vs. 37.1%, p < 0.06; HIV = 35.9% vs. 12.4%, p < 0.002; breast cancer = 17.9% vs. 16.5%; and COVID-19 with symptoms = 28.2% vs. 5.2%, p < 0.001. The information source was similar, with family, friends, and media accounting for 77 (56.6%) of women while doctors, nurses, and the CLC was the source for 21 (15.4%) women. Exclusive breastfeeding one month postpartum for Groups I and II was 41.9% and 12.8% (p < 0.006), respectively. Conclusion: The mothers were not more knowledgeable regarding breastfeeding safely one year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Conflicting lay information can create healthy behavior ambivalence, which can be prevented by health professionals confidently advising mothers to wear face masks when breastfeeding, restricting visitors and outings, and accepting COVID-19 vaccination. This pandemic remains an open opportunity to promote and encourage breastfeeding to every mother as the default newborn feeding method. Full article
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12 pages, 324 KiB  
Article
Trust and Biomedical Research Engagement of Minority and Under-Represented Communities in Mississippi, USA
by Donna Antoine-LaVigne, Traci Hayes, Marty Fortenberry, Evidence Ohikhuai, Clifton Addison, Sam Mozee, Jr., Dorothy McGill, Mangle L. Shanks, Christopher Roby, Brenda W. Campbell Jenkins and Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(2), 1592; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20021592 - 16 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1623
Abstract
Trust is critical to the development and maintenance of effective research collaborations and community engagement. The purpose of this study was to assess the current attitudes and level of trust pertaining to health research among residents of Central Mississippi, the priority health region [...] Read more.
Trust is critical to the development and maintenance of effective research collaborations and community engagement. The purpose of this study was to assess the current attitudes and level of trust pertaining to health research among residents of Central Mississippi, the priority health region for the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Center for Health Disparities Research (RCHDR) at Jackson State University. The cross-sectional study was conducted from November 2021 to April 2022. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics carried out by SPSS statistical software. A total of 146 participants responded to the survey. The participants were predominately African American (99%) and female (75%). Historical research studies, the researchers’ qualities, and potential benefits from participation were factors affecting the level of trust in the research process. Ninety percent (n = 131) expressed that it was important to be involved in the research process, and 98.5% (n = 144) agreed that discussing the research findings with the participants was important for establishing trust in the research process. While trust in the research process does not guarantee participation, trust is a precursor for those who decide to engage in health disparities research. Key findings will be integrated into the RCHDR research agenda to foster further development and implementation of innovative community-based participatory research toward the control and/or prevention of diseases that disproportionately affect minority and under-represented populations in Mississippi. Full article
12 pages, 325 KiB  
Article
Association of Psychosocial Factors on COVID-19 Testing among YWCA Service Recipients
by Miaya Blasingame, Veronica Mallett, Mekeila Cook, Wansoo Im, Derek Wilus, Robin Kimbrough, Gini Ikwuezunma, Ekemini Orok, Breia Reed, Victoria Akanbi, Aurdie Amoo-Asante and Maureen Sanderson
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(2), 1297; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20021297 - 11 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1556
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to examine how psychosocial factors affect receipt of COVID-19 testing among Black and Hispanic women. In this cross-sectional study of Black and Hispanic women who received services from the YWCAs in Atlanta, El Paso, Nashville, and Tucson [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to examine how psychosocial factors affect receipt of COVID-19 testing among Black and Hispanic women. In this cross-sectional study of Black and Hispanic women who received services from the YWCAs in Atlanta, El Paso, Nashville, and Tucson between 2019 and 2021 (n = 662), we used Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information Systems (PROMIS) item bank 1.0 short forms to examine the impact of psychosocial factors (i.e., depression, anxiety, social isolation, instrumental support, emotional support, and companionship) on COVID-19 testing. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for receipt of a COVID-19 test associated with psychosocial factors while adjusting for confounders. There was little effect of moderate/severe depressions or anxiety on receipt of COVID-19 testing. Black (odds ratio [OR] 0.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.26–1.29) and Hispanic (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.38–0.96) women with high levels of emotional support were less likely to receive the COVID-19 test. While high levels of instrumental support was associated with less likely receipt of the COVID-19 test among Black women (OR 0.75, 95% CI 0.34–1.66), it was associated with more likely receipt among Hispanic women (OR 1.19, 95% CI 0.74–1.92). Our findings suggest that certain psychosocial factors influence one’s decision to get a COVID-19 test which can be useful in encouraging preventive healthcare such as screening and vaccination. Full article
9 pages, 332 KiB  
Article
Recommendations from Latinx Trans and Non-Binary Individuals to Promote Cancer Prevention in Puerto Rico and Florida
by Joshua J. Rivera-Custodio, Ana V. Soto-Sanchez, Elvin O. Alvarado-Cardona, Fabian Moreta-Ávila, Julian Silva-Reteguis, Erik Velez-Perez, Coral Jiménez-Ricaurte, Eliut Rivera-Segarra, Sheilla L. Rodríguez-Madera and Alixida Ramos-Pibernus
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(2), 1213; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20021213 - 10 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1763
Abstract
Latinx trans and non-binary individuals (LTNB) face increased cancer-related health disparities. Studies evidence how barriers at the individual, provider and organizational levels drive cancer disparities among LTNB individuals. These barriers increase the emotional discomfort associated with testing and disengagement from cancer prevention efforts. [...] Read more.
Latinx trans and non-binary individuals (LTNB) face increased cancer-related health disparities. Studies evidence how barriers at the individual, provider and organizational levels drive cancer disparities among LTNB individuals. These barriers increase the emotional discomfort associated with testing and disengagement from cancer prevention efforts. Moreover, there are no guidelines or interventions that address cancer prevention specifically among LTNB individuals. There is a need to develop interventions informed by the LTNB communities to promote cancer prevention and screening. The study aims to describe the recommendations provided by LTNB individuals to foster cancer screening and prevention in the communities residing in Puerto Rico and Florida. We conducted two online focus groups with a total of 15 LTNB participants. Participants were recruited using non-probabilistic purposive sampling. We used rapid-qualitative analysis for data interpretation. Findings are gathered in three main themes: (1) recommendations for promoting cancer prevention screening among providers; (2) specific recommendations to promote cancer screening among LTBN individuals; and (3) recommendations on delivery formats to foster cancer prevention. These results evidence the need and feasibility of developing community informed tailored interventions targeting cancer screening and preventative care to reduce cancer-related health disparities among the LTNB population. Full article
14 pages, 1119 KiB  
Article
Pain Severity and Smoking Abstinence Expectancies among Latinx Individuals Who Smoke Cigarettes: The Moderating Role of Perceived Discrimination
by Brooke Y. Redmond, Aniqua Salwa, Tanya Smit, Joseph W. Ditre, Lorra Garey and Michael J. Zvolensky
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(2), 1079; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20021079 - 7 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1260
Abstract
Latinx individuals experience significant health disparities related to smoking cessation in the United States (US). Although past works have consistently implicated pain in the maintenance of smoking behavior, limited research has examined the role of social determinants (e.g., perceived discrimination) in pain–smoking relations. [...] Read more.
Latinx individuals experience significant health disparities related to smoking cessation in the United States (US). Although past works have consistently implicated pain in the maintenance of smoking behavior, limited research has examined the role of social determinants (e.g., perceived discrimination) in pain–smoking relations. The current study sought to examine the moderating role of perceived discrimination in the relation between pain severity and smoking abstinence expectancies (i.e., a cognitive factor related to poor smoking outcomes) among 226 Latinx individuals who currently smoke cigarettes (Mage = 34.95 years; SD = 8.62; 38.5% female). The results indicated a statistically significant interaction between pain severity and perceived discrimination with regard to smoking abstinence expectancies (i.e., negative mood, somatic symptoms, harmful consequences, and positive consequences). Post-hoc analyses revealed the association of pain severity and negative mood, harmful consequences, and positive consequences smoking abstinence expectancies evident for individuals with higher perceived discrimination. Moreover, the association between pain severity and somatic symptoms smoking abstinence expectancies was stronger for individuals with higher perceived discrimination. Overall, these results suggest that clinical and community-based public health strategies may benefit from addressing the role of perceived discrimination among Latinx individuals who smoke cigarettes in the context of pain. Full article
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16 pages, 397 KiB  
Article
A Pilot Study of Polysubstance Use Sequences across the Lifespan among Assiniboine and Sioux People Who Use Injection Drugs
by Michael Anastario, Paula Firemoon, Ana Maria Rodriguez, Carrie Wade, Christopher Prokosch, Elizabeth Rink and Eric Wagner
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(1), 543; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010543 - 29 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1700
Abstract
Compared with other racial/ethnic groups in the United States, American Indians/Alaska Natives have the highest rates of acute Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection, the highest HCV-related mortality, and one of the fastest climbing rates of drug overdose deaths involving stimulants. In this pilot [...] Read more.
Compared with other racial/ethnic groups in the United States, American Indians/Alaska Natives have the highest rates of acute Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection, the highest HCV-related mortality, and one of the fastest climbing rates of drug overdose deaths involving stimulants. In this pilot study, a life history calendar was administered to Indigenous people who use injection drugs (IPWIDs) to understand sequences of polysubstance use across the lifespan. 40 IPWIDs completed a questionnaire and life history calendar. Social sequence analysis was used to examine patterns in sequential phenomena among substances reported over years of the lifespan. Most participants (55%) began injecting substances before the age of 21, 62.5% shared syringes with others, and 45% had ever been diagnosed with HCV. An appreciably large increase in the use of stimulants occurred between the year prior to and following injection initiation (33% to 82%). A three-cluster solution distinguished younger IPWIDs transitioning into polysubstance use involving stimulants and/or narcotic analgesics from adults using narcotic analgesics with stimulants over longer periods of time, and adults most focused on stimulant use over time. Findings from this pilot study contribute to an understanding of how methamphetamine injection plays a role in the HCV epidemic among IPWIDs. Full article
12 pages, 583 KiB  
Article
Summary of Year-One Effort of the RCMI Consortium to Enhance Research Capacity and Diversity with Data Science
by Christopher S. Awad, Youping Deng, John Kwagyan, Abiel Roche-Lima, Paul B. Tchounwou, Qingguo Wang and Muhammed Y. Idris
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(1), 279; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010279 - 24 Dec 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1490
Abstract
Despite being disproportionately impacted by health disparities, Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and other underrepresented populations account for a significant minority of graduates in biomedical data science-related disciplines. Given their commitment to educating underrepresented students and trainees, minority serving institutions (MSIs) can play a significant [...] Read more.
Despite being disproportionately impacted by health disparities, Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and other underrepresented populations account for a significant minority of graduates in biomedical data science-related disciplines. Given their commitment to educating underrepresented students and trainees, minority serving institutions (MSIs) can play a significant role in enhancing diversity in the biomedical data science workforce. Little has been published about the reach, curricular breadth, and best practices for delivering these data science training programs. The purpose of this paper is to summarize six Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMIs) awarded funding from the National Institute of Minority Health Disparities (NIMHD) to develop new data science training programs. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to better understand the demographics of learners served, curricular topics covered, methods of instruction and assessment, challenges, and recommendations by program directors. Programs demonstrated overall success in reach and curricular diversity, serving a broad range of students and faculty, while also covering a broad range of topics. The main challenges highlighted were a lack of resources and infrastructure and teaching learners with varying levels of experience and knowledge. Further investments in MSIs are needed to sustain training efforts and develop pathways for diversifying the biomedical data science workforce. Full article
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11 pages, 1240 KiB  
Article
Building Research Infrastructure: The Development of a Technical Assistance Group-Service Center at an RCMI
by Monica R. Lininger, Christine Kirby, Kelly A. Laurila, Indrakshi Roy, Marcelle Coder, Catherine R. Propper, Robert T. Trotter II and Julie A. Baldwin
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(1), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010191 - 23 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1456
Abstract
As one of the Research Centers for Minority Institutions (RCMI), the Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative (SHERC) worked over the first five-year period of funding to foster the advancement of Early Stage Investigators, enhance the quality of health disparities research, and increase institution [...] Read more.
As one of the Research Centers for Minority Institutions (RCMI), the Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative (SHERC) worked over the first five-year period of funding to foster the advancement of Early Stage Investigators, enhance the quality of health disparities research, and increase institution research capacity in basic Biomedical, Behavioral, and/or Clinical research; all priorities of RCMIs. In year 4, the Technical Assistance Group-Service Center (TAG-SC) was created to help achieve these goals. The TAG-SC provides one-on-one investigator project development support, including research design, data capture, and analysis. Successful implementation of the TAG-SC was tracked using Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap), a secure, web-based software platform allowing for immediate tracking and evaluation processes. In the first two years, 86 tickets were submitted through the REDCap system for methodological support by TAG-SC experts (faculty and staff) for assistance with health-equity related research, primarily SHERC and externally funded Social/Behavioral research projects. The TAG-SC increased the research capacity for investigators, especially within the SHERC. In this manuscript, we describe the methods used to create the TAG-SC and the REDCap tracking system and lessons learned, which can help other RCMIs interested in creating a similar service center offering an innovative way to build methodological infrastructure. Full article
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14 pages, 341 KiB  
Article
Building Trust and Awareness to Increase AZ Native Nation Participation in COVID-19 Vaccines
by Grant Sears, Marissa Tutt, Samantha Sabo, Naomi Lee, Nicolette Teufel-Shone, Anthony Baca, Marianne Bennett, J. T. Neva Nashio, Fernando Flores and Julie Baldwin
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(1), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010031 - 20 Dec 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1877
Abstract
The goal of this study was to establish effective, culturally appropriate strategies to enhance participation of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities in prevention and treatment of COVID-19, including vaccine uptake. Thirteen Community Health Representatives (CHRs) from three Arizona Native nations tailored education materials [...] Read more.
The goal of this study was to establish effective, culturally appropriate strategies to enhance participation of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities in prevention and treatment of COVID-19, including vaccine uptake. Thirteen Community Health Representatives (CHRs) from three Arizona Native nations tailored education materials to each community. CHRs delivered the intervention to over 160 community members and administered a pre-posttest to assess trusted sources of information, knowledge, and self-efficacy and intention regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Based on pre-posttest results, doctors/healthcare providers and CHRs were the most trusted health messengers for COVID-19 information; contacts on social media, the state and federal governments, and mainstream news were among the least trusted. Almost two-thirds of respondents felt the education session was relevant to their community and culture, and more than half reported using the education materials to talk to a family member or friend about getting vaccinated. About 67% trusted the COVID-19 information provided and 74% trusted the CHR providing the information. Culturally and locally relevant COVID-19 vaccine information was welcomed and used by community members to advocate for vaccination. The materials and education provided by CHRs were viewed as helpful and emphasized the trust and influence CHRs have in their communities. Full article
26 pages, 4243 KiB  
Article
Research Infrastructure Core Facilities at Research Centers in Minority Institutions: Part I—Research Resources Management, Operation, and Best Practices
by Paul B. Tchounwou, Mohamad Malouhi, Elizabeth O. Ofili, Emma Fernández-Repollet, Daniel F. Sarpong, Richard Yanagihara, Renato J. Aguilera, Cecilia Ayón, Xiaoxin Chen, Asok Dasmahapatra, Song Gao, Cimona V. Hinton, Robert Holt, Vladimir Kolesnichenko, Michael D. Powell, Fatima Merchant, Kinfe K. Redda, Abiel Roche-Lima, Cecilia M. Shikuma, Jacqueline J. Stevens, Jose A. Torres, Robert T. Trotter, James Wachira, Paul Wang, Kristen J. Wells, Jason White and Yanyuan Wuadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(24), 16979; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416979 - 17 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1866
Abstract
Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program fosters the development and implementation of innovative research aimed at improving minority health and reducing or eliminating health disparities. Currently, there are 21 RCMI Specialized (U54) Centers [...] Read more.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program fosters the development and implementation of innovative research aimed at improving minority health and reducing or eliminating health disparities. Currently, there are 21 RCMI Specialized (U54) Centers that share the same framework, comprising four required core components, namely the Administrative, Research Infrastructure, Investigator Development, and Community Engagement Cores. The Research Infrastructure Core (RIC) is fundamentally important for biomedical and health disparities research as a critical function domain. This paper aims to assess the research resources and services provided and evaluate the best practices in research resources management and networking across the RCMI Consortium. We conducted a REDCap-based survey and collected responses from 57 RIC Directors and Co-Directors from 98 core leaders. Our findings indicated that the RIC facilities across the 21 RCMI Centers provide access to major research equipment and are managed by experienced faculty and staff who provide expert consultative and technical services. However, several impediments to RIC facilities operation and management have been identified, and these are currently being addressed through implementation of cost-effective strategies and best practices of laboratory management and operation. Full article
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12 pages, 923 KiB  
Article
Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 Phased Vaccine Eligibility on COVID-19 Vaccine Intent among African Americans in Southeastern Louisiana: A Community-Based, Cohort Study
by Sara Al-Dahir, Martha Earls, Christopher Gillard, Brittany Singleton and Erica Hall
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(24), 16737; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416737 - 13 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1273
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of eligibility for the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine at the time of the vaccine rollout as a predictor of vaccine intent within the African American community. Methods: Four hundred eighty-seven African American participants [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of eligibility for the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine at the time of the vaccine rollout as a predictor of vaccine intent within the African American community. Methods: Four hundred eighty-seven African American participants in southeastern Louisiana were surveyed from January–April of 2021, with follow-up surveys occurring in Fall 2021. Survey domains included demographics, vaccine hesitancy, discrimination in the healthcare setting, and knowledge and experiences with COVID-19. Descriptive statistics, Chi-square tests, and binary logistic regression were performed. Results: Participants eligible for the vaccine were 1.61 times as likely to express positive vaccine intent versus ineligible participants. Additional predictors of vaccine intent were age, insurance status and coverage, and female sex at birth. In the multivariable logistic analysis, eligible individuals were 2.07 times as likely to receive the vaccine versus ineligible individuals. Conclusions: Vaccine eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine was a significant predictor of intent to vaccinate in the African American community. Younger individuals were less likely to have a positive intent, correlating with the eligibility of ages 16+ occurring 5 months post-vaccine approval. Full article
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10 pages, 296 KiB  
Article
A Qualitative Study on the Motivators, Barriers and Supports to Participation in a Pediatric Produce Prescription Program in Hawai‘i
by Monica Esquivel, Alicia Higa, Andrea Guidry, Cherese Shelton and May Okihiro
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(24), 16682; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416682 - 12 Dec 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1668
Abstract
Produce prescriptions that provide vouchers to individuals to purchase fresh FVs at a specified retail outlet have the potential to positively impact food security status, diet, and chronic disease risk. However, maximizing program participation is vital to ensuring program success. This research describes [...] Read more.
Produce prescriptions that provide vouchers to individuals to purchase fresh FVs at a specified retail outlet have the potential to positively impact food security status, diet, and chronic disease risk. However, maximizing program participation is vital to ensuring program success. This research describes motivators, barriers, and support for participation in a child produce prescription program among a population of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders, who are underrepresented in this field of research. This qualitative grounded theory study was nestled within a quasi-experimental pilot intervention trial and included semi-structured interviews with pediatric program participants. Twenty-five interviews were conducted, which represented one-third of program participants. The top support factors for program participation included: ease of voucher use, program convenience, health center/pediatrician endorsement and positive communications with farmers’ market vendors. Key motivators for program participation were produce enjoyment, child support, financial support, and positive impacts on family. Three themes emerged consistently as barriers to participation amongst participants, (1) difficult use of vouchers, (2) conflicting schedules, and (3) online market concerns. (4) Conclusions: This research offers insight into policy implications as the number of produce prescription programs has grown. These findings suggest that key program design characteristics can enhance and support program participation. Full article
12 pages, 1857 KiB  
Article
Micronutrient Biosynthesis Potential of Spontaneous Grain Fermentation Microbiomes
by Margaret I. Dania, Bahram Faraji and James Wachira
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(24), 16621; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416621 - 10 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1626
Abstract
Fermented foods play an important role in the human diet and particularly so in under-resourced environments where cold preservation is not attainable due to irregular supply of electricity. Fermented foods are reported to support gut health by contributing probiotics. The purpose of this [...] Read more.
Fermented foods play an important role in the human diet and particularly so in under-resourced environments where cold preservation is not attainable due to irregular supply of electricity. Fermented foods are reported to support gut health by contributing probiotics. The purpose of this study was to investigate the microbial diversity and metabolic potential of spontaneous millet fermentation. The literature in the field was reviewed and analyses were conducted on publicly available Sequence Read Archive (SRA) datasets. Quality analysis was performed with FastQC, and operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were generated using Quantitative Insights Into Microbial Ecology (QIIME2) and Divisive Amplicon Denoising Algorithm (DADA2) pipelines with Greengenes as the reference database. Metagenomics and pathways analysis were performed with Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt2). Statistical analysis and visualization were accomplished with Statistical Analysis of Metagenomic Profiles (STAMP). At the family taxonomic level, there were differences in the relative abundances of the dominant taxa of bacteria that are involved in the spontaneous fermentation of millet namely Lactobacillaceae, Burkholderiaceae, Streptococcaceae, Leuconostocaceae, and Acetobacteraceae. Clostridiaceae was the dominant family in one dataset. The incidence of Lactobacillaceae and Bifidobacteriaceae suggest the probiotic characteristics of fermented millet. The datasets were collected with fermentations that were mediated by autochthonous microorganisms and the presence of some potential pathogens such as Enterobacteriaceae, Clostridiaceae, Aeromonadaceae, Microbacteiaceae, Pseudomonadaceae, and Neisseriaceae which suggest the need for standardization of fermentation approaches. The genomes show the potential to synthesize metabolites such as essential amino acids and vitamins, suggesting that the respective fermented foods can be further optimized to enhance nutritional benefits. Full article
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12 pages, 1263 KiB  
Article
COVID-19 Progression: A County-Level Analysis of Vaccination and Case Fatality in Mississippi, USA
by Shinjita Ghosh, Hafiz A. Ahmad, Luma Akil and Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(24), 16552; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416552 - 9 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1487
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a severe upheaval in the U.S., with a particular burden on the state of Mississippi, which already has an exhausted healthcare burden. The main objectives of this study are: (1) to analyze the county-level COVID-19 cases, deaths, and [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a severe upheaval in the U.S., with a particular burden on the state of Mississippi, which already has an exhausted healthcare burden. The main objectives of this study are: (1) to analyze the county-level COVID-19 cases, deaths, and vaccine distribution and (2) to determine the correlation between various social determinants of health (SDOH) and COVID-19 vaccination coverage. We analyzed COVID-19-associated data and county-level SDOH factors in 82 counties of Mississippi. The cumulative COVID-19 and socio-demographic data variables were grouped into feature and target variables. The statistical and exploratory data analysis (EDA) was conducted using Python 3.8.5. The correlation between the target and feature variables was performed by Pearson Correlation analysis. The heat Map Correlation Matrix was visually presented to illustrate the correlation between each pair of features and each target variable. Results indicated that people of Asian descent had the highest vaccination coverage of 77% fully vaccinated compared to 52%, 46%, 42% and 25% for African Americans, Whites, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska Natives, respectively. The county-level vaccination rate was significantly higher among the minority populations than the White population. It was observed that COVID-19 cases and deaths were positively correlated with per capita income and negatively correlated with the percentage of persons without a high school diploma (age 25+). This study strongly demonstrates that different SDOH factors influence the outcome of the COVID-19 vaccination rate, which also affects the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Vaccine promotion should be given to all populations regardless of race and ethnicity to achieve uniform acceptance. Therefore, statewide policy recommendations focusing on specific community needs should help achieve health equity in COVID-19 vaccination management. Full article
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12 pages, 1680 KiB  
Article
Identification of a Novel Anti-HIV-1 Protein from Momordica balsamina Leaf Extract
by Morgan I. Coleman, Mahfuz Khan, Erick Gbodossou, Amad Diop, Kenya DeBarros, Hao Duong, Vincent C. Bond, Virginia Floyd, Kofi Kondwani, Valerie Montgomery Rice, Francois Villinger and Michael D. Powell
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(22), 15227; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192215227 - 18 Nov 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1763
Abstract
Our lab investigates the anti-HIV-1 activity in Momordica balsamina (M. balsamina) leaf extract. Traditional Senegalese healers have used M. balsamina leaf extract as a part of a plant-based treatment for HIV/AIDS infections. Our overall goal is to define and validate the [...] Read more.
Our lab investigates the anti-HIV-1 activity in Momordica balsamina (M. balsamina) leaf extract. Traditional Senegalese healers have used M. balsamina leaf extract as a part of a plant-based treatment for HIV/AIDS infections. Our overall goal is to define and validate the scientific basis for using M. balsamina leaf extract as a part of the traditional Senegalese treatment. As an initial characterization of this extract, we used activity-guided fractionation to determine the active ingredient’s solubility and relative size. We found that M. balsamina leaf extract inhibits HIV-1 infection by >50% at concentrations of 0.02 mg/mL and above and is not toxic over its inhibitory range (0–0.5 mg/mL). We observed significantly more antiviral activity in direct water and acetonitrile extractions (p ≤ 0.05). We also observed significantly more antiviral activity in the aqueous phases of ethyl acetate, chloroform, and diethyl ether extractions (p ≤ 0.05). Though most of the antiviral activity partitioned into the aqueous layers, some antiviral activity was present in the organic layers. We show that the active agent in the plant extracts is at least 30 kD in size. Significantly more antiviral activity was retained in 3, 10, and 30 kD molecular weight cutoff filters (p ≤ 0.05). In contrast, most of the antiviral activity passed through the 100 kD filter (p ≤ 0.05). Because the active anti-HIV-1 agent presented as a large, amphiphilic molecule we ran the purified extract on an SDS-page gel. We show that the anti-HIV-1 activity in the leaf extracts is attributed to a 30 kDa protein we call MoMo30. This article describes how MoMo30 was determined to be responsible for its anti-HIV-1 activity. Full article
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19 pages, 4423 KiB  
Article
COVID-19 Incidence and Death Rates in the Southern Region of the United States: A Racial and Ethnic Association
by Luma Akil, Yalanda M. Barner, Anamika Bisht, Ebele Okoye and Hafiz Anwar Ahmad
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(21), 13990; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192113990 - 27 Oct 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1995
Abstract
The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, with over half a billion cases linked to over 6 million deaths globally. COVID-19 has impacted populations unequally based on income, age, race, sex, and geographical location. This study aimed to [...] Read more.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, with over half a billion cases linked to over 6 million deaths globally. COVID-19 has impacted populations unequally based on income, age, race, sex, and geographical location. This study aimed to characterize COVID-19 incidence and death rate trends in six states of the southern region of the USA and to understand the demographic and racial differences in its incidence and death rates. Data for the study were collected from the COVID-19 Data tracker of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the following southern states: Alabama (AL), Florida (FL), Georgia (GA), Louisiana (LA), Mississippi (MS), and Tennessee (TN). The results showed a significant geographical variation in the COVID-19 cases and related deaths. Significant variations in COVID-19 cases and death rates were observed among different races and ethnic groups. The highest number of COVID-19 cases were observed among the Hispanic and Black populations, and the highest death rates were found among non-Hispanic Blacks and Whites. The southern states included in this paper showed a high number of COVID-19 cases and high death rates during the study period. These increased rates may result from the low socioeconomic status and large minority populations. Full article
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12 pages, 3115 KiB  
Article
Addressing Food Insecurity during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Intervention Outcomes and Lessons Learned from a Collaborative Food Delivery Response in South Florida’s Underserved Households
by Nana Aisha Garba, Lea Sacca, Rachel D. Clarke, Prasad Bhoite, John Buschman, Virama Oller, Nancy Napolitano, Samuel Hyppolite, Sophia Lacroix, Al Archibald, Ocean Hamilton, Tobi Ash and David R. Brown
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(13), 8130; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19138130 - 2 Jul 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3075
Abstract
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted underlying disparities in health, healthcare access, and other social factors that have been documented for racial/ethnic minorities. The social-distancing mandate exacerbated the impact of social determinants of health, such as unemployment and food insecurity, particularly among underserved minority [...] Read more.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted underlying disparities in health, healthcare access, and other social factors that have been documented for racial/ethnic minorities. The social-distancing mandate exacerbated the impact of social determinants of health, such as unemployment and food insecurity, particularly among underserved minority populations. We highlight intervention outcomes and lessons learned from the Florida International University (FIU) Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) NeighborhoodHELP’s response to pandemic-related food insecurity among Miami Dade County’s underserved population. Methods: Following the stay-at-home mandate, a weekly needs assessment of program households was conducted by the NeighborhoodHELP team, during which food insecurity emerged as a pandemic-related urgent need, rising from three percent of program Households in March 2020 to 36.9 percent six months later. Consequently, the program staff collaborated with another FIU department, community partners, and a benefactor to develop a food donation and delivery project. Results: Fifteen hundred and forty-three culturally appropriate food boxes were delivered to 289 participating households, comprising 898 household members, over a 14-month period. Conclusion: This project underscores the importance of leveraging community assets to address their needs during a crisis and the significance of sustained community engagement for researchers and service providers who work in underserved communities. Full article
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10 pages, 293 KiB  
Case Report
Moving Morehouse School of Medicine Translation Tx Research through MDTTs—Multidisciplinary Translational Teams
by Rhonda Conerly Holliday, Kendra D. Piper, Shawn X. Trimble, Carmen M. Dickinson-Copeland, Ashley K. Mitchell, Tabia Henry Akintobi, Vincent C. Bond and Virginia D. Floyd
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(5), 4302; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20054302 - 28 Feb 2023
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Abstract
Morehouse School of Medicine (SOM) works to achieve its vision of advancing health equity through conducting transformational, translation science (Tx). Tx describes our translational research continuum, symbolizing a method and scientific philosophy that intentionally promotes and supports convergence of interdisciplinary [...] Read more.
Morehouse School of Medicine (SOM) works to achieve its vision of advancing health equity through conducting transformational, translation science (Tx). Tx describes our translational research continuum, symbolizing a method and scientific philosophy that intentionally promotes and supports convergence of interdisciplinary approaches and scientists to stimulate exponential advances for the health of diverse communities. Morehouse SOM actualizes Tx through multidisciplinary translational teams (MDTTs). We chronicle the identification of MDTTs by documenting formation, composition, functioning, successes, failures, and sustainability. Data and information were collected through key informant interviews, review of research documents, workshops, and community events. Our scan identified 16 teams that meet our Morehouse SOM definition of an MDTT. These team science workgroups cross basic science, clinical, and public health academic departments, and include community partners and student learners. We present four MDTTs, in various stages of progress, at Morehouse SOM and how they are advancing translational research. Full article
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