Research Roundup

Recent news, reports, and research regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher eduation.

Effects of Parental Support on LGBTQ+ Youth

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin recently studied the effects of perceived parental social support and psychological control on the mental health of more than 500 LGBTQ+ youth. 

Participants represented a wide range of sexual orientations, gender identities, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and geographic locations. The study found that perceived parental social support of LGBTQ+ youth was associated with a reduction in depression symptoms, and that perceived attempts by parents to psychologically control youth — such as invalidating feelings, inducing guilt, and conditional expression of affection — were linked to an increase in such symptoms. Researchers say the study findings can be used to develop parenting literature to support the positive mental health development of LGBTQ+ adolescents. 

More Training Needed for Disability Health Care

Additional medical training and education are critically needed to ensure that postgraduate students and residents provide proper care for patients with disabilities, according to a new research brief from Kari Rezac, DO, at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. 

Rezac measured the knowledge of health care and societal inequities of people with disabilities among physical medicine and rehabilitation residents and their confidence level in treating such patients on a four-point scale (with four being very knowledgeable or confident and one having zero knowledge or confidence). Prior to participating in a series of disability-focused lectures, the residents averaged between 2.2 and 2.3 in all three categories. After the lecture series, confidence and knowledge grew to between 3.1 and 3.4 across the questions.

Racial Bias in Drug Testing of Pregnant Women

A recent study analyzing data from nearly 38,000 pregnant hospital patients in Pennsylvania found that Black women were more likely to be tested for drug use than any other racial group. 

Conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh; the University of California, San Francisco; the Friends Research Institute; and the Magee-Womens Research Institute, the study found that despite these higher test rates, Black women were less likely to test positive for alcohol, cannabis, opioids, or stimulants during pregnancy. Of those included in the analysis, 11 percent of women overall had histories of substance abuse. Among that group, 76 percent of Black patients were drug tested compared to 69 percent of White patients, despite the former group having a lower percentage of positive results. Based on the findings, researchers suggest that health care systems examine their drug testing policies and adhere to evidence-based practices to address racial biases.

Peer Reviews Show Bias Against Underrepresented Scientists

Biology scientists from historically disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to receive negative peer review outcomes in their research, according to a new study from Michigan State University. 

An analysis of more than 300,000 biology manuscripts found that peer-reviewed literature is still largely dominated by White males from the United States and the United Kingdom. Research by women and non-native-English-speaking scientists is disproportionately rejected. Based on the findings, the researchers recommend that more scientific journals implement a double-blind review process and create guidelines that explicitly mention social justice issues. Among ecology and evolutionary biology journals, for example, only 16 percent use a double-blind model and just 2 percent mentioned social justice in their peer-review guidelines.

Diversity and Inclusion in Clinical Trials

Medical products including thermometer, medication, and a stethoscope“Enhancing Diversity and Inclusion in Clinical Trials,” a white paper recently published by Duke University researchers, organizes the findings of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative, a partnership between Duke and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

Researchers interviewed senior leaders from 20 organizations that conduct clinical trials of medical products. To address various challenges they described, such as cost and time, a delay in measurable impact, and employee unfamiliarity with DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) processes, researchers recommend that organizations provide sufficient upfront funding to support systemwide DEI practices and ensure that senior leadership is committed and accountable.

Mental Health of Black Students

Black female college student studying in a libraryResearchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health recently published a study that compares the mental health effects of Black students who attend historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to those who enroll at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). 

The study, “Estimating the Long-Term Causal Effects of Attending Historically Black Colleges or Universities on Depressive Symptoms,” analyzed the experiences of 500 Black participants starting in high school through up to 14 years post-college to determine whether HBCU students are exposed less to structural racism than their PWI-attending counterparts. Results show that among Black students who reported a high number of depressive symptoms in their teens, HBCU attendees conveyed fewer symptoms after college than their peers who attended PWI schools.

Indigenous People and Urban Housing

Overview shot of multiple homes and buildingsA new study examines the housing experiences of Indigenous people in U.S. urban areas with the goal of improving policies and addressing inequities. 

The project is funded in part by the University of Michigan’s Research for Indigenous Social Action and Equity Center. Significant gaps remain in the sociological study of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN), particularly regarding life experiences outside of their reservations, according to Sofia Locklear, PhD, lead researcher and associate professor at Western University in Canada. Study participants, all of whom are AIAN people living in or near U.S. cities, are interviewed about their housing type, living conditions, and experiences in securing living accommodations. As of early March, the study had already garnered more than 800 participants.

Latina Wage Gap

woman holding two uneven stacks of coinsLatinas in New Jersey experience some of the highest pay inequality in the country, second only to California, according to a new report from the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations’ Center for Women and Work. 

Women in the state with Latina or Hispanic heritage earn approximately 45 cents, compared to 83.7 cents for women in general, for every dollar a White male earns. Along with wage gap data, the report examines working conditions, access and barriers to employment, employee benefits, and the impact of work on families. Researchers recommend expanding career-focused courses at New Jersey Hispanic women’s resource centers to include entrepreneurship, technical skill development, and legal and immigration services.