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A Partnership Between Researchers and the Navajo Nation to Study a Junk Food Tax

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Co-Authored By
Regina Eddie, Ph.D., Northern Arizona University School of Nursing
Hendrik “Dirk” de Heer, Ph.D., Department of Health Sciences, Northern Arizona University
Del Yazzie, M.P.H., Navajo Epidemiology Center

Eight years ago, the Navajo Nation enacted the first junk food tax within the United States and the first in any sovereign tribal nation in the world. The Healthy Diné Nation Act (HDNA) of 2014 created a 2% tax on foods and beverages that had little to no nutritional value. A companion piece of legislation removed the usual sales tax (then 5%, now 6%) for healthy foods, including water, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. The revenue from the unhealthy food tax is designated for local wellness projects in the 110 local communities that make up the Navajo Nation.

Because they are sovereign nations, tribal nations are uniquely able to implement policies aimed at improving public health that may be difficult to implement in other places. Through partnerships with researchers at academic institutions, tribal nations can also measure the effects of these policies and share that information widely. Continue reading “A Partnership Between Researchers and the Navajo Nation to Study a Junk Food Tax”

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The Dementia Epidemic Among Older Black Americans

Dementia Blog
Dementia Blog

Photo of Drs. Hayward and FarinaCo-authored by

Mark D. Hayward, Ph.D.
University of Texas at Austin

Mateo P. Farina, Ph.D. 
University of Southern California 

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness month. While it is a time to recognize the importance of supporting persons living with dementia, it is also a time to acknowledge the glaring disparities in dementia in our country. One such disparity is the epidemic levels of dementia among older Black Americans compared to White Americans.

The prevalence of dementia among Black Americans aged 65 years and older is about 2.5 times that for White Americans of the same age. In 2012, for example, a nationally representative study reported that 19.3% of older Black people had dementia compared to 7.4% of older White people1. These differences are starker at older ages. For Black persons aged 75 years and older, the prevalence of dementia is 31%, compared to 9% for White persons of that age2. Research reporting race differences in dementia onset—that is, new cases of dementia—document a similar race gap: Black people have about a 2.7 times greater risk of onset compared to White people3. These numbers translate into an extraordinary and disproportionate burden for Black individuals, their families, and their communities. This burden is often compounded by older Black Americans having fewer personal, social, economic, clinical, and community resources compared to White Americans. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased these inequities, making care more difficult to obtain and placing a greater burden on familial caregivers. Continue reading “The Dementia Epidemic Among Older Black Americans”

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Helping Youth from Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups Access Effective ADHD Treatment

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By Lauren Haack, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
University of California, San Francisco

Photo of Dr. Lauren HaackAttention-Deficit, Hyperactivity/Impulsivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders impacting approximately 5% of children across cultures.1 Brain differences related to ADHD influence those affected in several ways.1,2 To begin, new or challenging tasks seem overwhelming, making it hard to map out a plan for completion and self-motivate initiation.3 In addition, individuals with ADHD have a tendency to over-perceive negative feedback and under-perceive positive feedback,2,4 which relates to difficulty regulating emotions.2 Unfortunately, as children with ADHD reach school age, they encounter more difficulties and more opportunities for critical rather than positive feedback from parents, teachers, and peers.2,5 As a result, ineffective patterns of interaction between children with ADHD and others in their lives can become entrenched, contributing to stress, confusion, and even hopelessness.4,5 Continue reading “Helping Youth from Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups Access Effective ADHD Treatment”

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Community Organizations Lead Structural Interventions Research with Novel NIH Initiative

By Nathan Stinson Jr., Ph.D., M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Division of Community Health and Population Science
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Dr. Nathan Stinson

To make greater advances in promoting health and preventing disease among populations experiencing health disparities, NIH launched the Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) Program. The program aims to put community organizations at the helm of research programs that will help accelerate discoveries in research to improve health equity across all populations. Traditionally, academic institutions have led research efforts with engagement from community partners. ComPASS, however, is novel because it’s transformative, and it has the potential to develop a new health equity research model for community-led, multisectoral structural intervention research across NIH and other federal agencies.

Continue reading “Community Organizations Lead Structural Interventions Research with Novel NIH Initiative”

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Environmental Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer in Overburdened, Understudied Populations

By Lauren Hurwitz, Ph.D., MHS
2022 Coleman Research Innovation Awardees
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
Postdoctoral Fellow
National Cancer Institute

Prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer among men globally, and the leading cause of cancer death among men in 48 countries, most of which are in Africa, the Caribbean, and South America1. In the United States, prostate cancer is also the cancer with the largest disparities by race, with incidence rates 60-70% higher and mortality rates 100-120% higher in Black men as compared to non-Hispanic White men2. The underlying drivers of prostate cancer racial disparities are not well understood but likely involve a complex interplay of genetic, social, structural, and environmental factors2.

As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), I am part of group studying environmental and occupational risk factors for prostate cancer, including how they may be inequitably distributed and contributing to these disparities. Using studies of highly exposed occupational groups in the U.S., we have been investigating pesticide exposure and its potential impact on prostate cancer risk among farmers. Evidence from the Agricultural Health Study, a large prospective cohort study, suggests that specific pesticides (certain organophosphate and organochlorine insecticides) are associated with risk of more aggressive forms of prostate cancer3, 4. Similar associations have been observed in case-control studies as well5. While informative, the prior studies have one major limitation—most studies of pesticides and prostate cancer risk have been conducted in non-Hispanic White populations. Continue reading “Environmental Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer in Overburdened, Understudied Populations”

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Striving Towards Health Equity: Understanding the Impact of Discrimination on LGBTQ+ Communities

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UPDATED June 27, 2022

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

NIMHD Director, Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable

Sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ+)1, experience health disparities and face barriers to accessing health care.  SGM populations have higher burdens of certain diseases, such as depression, certain cancers, and tobacco-related conditions. But the extent and causes of health disparities are not fully known, mechanisms remain unclear, and more research on how to close these gaps is needed.

Stigmatization, hate-related violence, and discrimination are still major barriers to the health and well-being of SGM populations. SGM individuals who are also from racial, ethnic, and/or immigrant minority communities may be even more vulnerable because they face similar barriers, discrimination, and health challenges that are unique to those experienced by all minority populations.

Continue reading “Striving Towards Health Equity: Understanding the Impact of Discrimination on LGBTQ+ Communities”

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HDPulse: A Comprehensive Resource to Access Health Disparities Data and Minority Health Resources

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Tilda Farhat, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Director, Office of Science Policy, Planning, Evaluation, and Reporting

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Tilda Farhat, Ph.D., M.P.H.It has been 37 years since the release of the ground-breaking Heckler report underscoring the disproportionate burden of  premature illness and death experienced by people from racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. Since then, great strides have been made in addressing and improving minority health and health disparities through improved data collection, research opportunities, and proven interventions. However, despite these efforts, health disparities persist and progress to date is suboptimal.

While minority health and health disparities researchers, intervention developers, and public health professionals strive to reduce health disparities, some may have difficulty accessing data and evidence-based resources that can help them design, implement, and evaluate health disparities-related programs. They often rely on multiple sources that may differ in data quality, completeness and other important attributes. The HDPulse resource, developed by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), is perhaps the most comprehensive resource that provides national, state, and county level data on minority health and health disparities, as well as evidence-based interventions and accompanying tools and materials. Continue reading “HDPulse: A Comprehensive Resource to Access Health Disparities Data and Minority Health Resources”

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Boost Your Community: NIMHD’s Role in Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Community Interventions

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Boost Your Community Blog Post --FINAL

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Photo of Dr. Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, NIMHD Director

NMHM Social Card with Black Male and other images

April is National Minority Health Month (NMHM), and this year we are joining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health to highlight the key role individuals and organizations can play in helping to reduce health disparities and improve the health of people who are disadvantaged by social and economic conditions, geographic location, or the environment in which they live.

This year’s theme, “Give Your Community a Boost!,” focuses on the continued importance of COVID-19 vaccination, including COVID-19 boosters, and sharing credible information as important tools to end the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected communities already dealing with long-standing social and health inequities. Ongoing vaccination against COVID-19 is the single most important way to blunt the effects of severe disease, the consequences of stress on the health care system, and excess deaths of the most vulnerable people.

Continue reading “Boost Your Community: NIMHD’s Role in Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Community Interventions”

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A Different Kind of Leader

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A Different Kind Leader

Giselle Corbie, M.D., MSc
Kenan Distinguished Professor of Social Medicine
Director, Center for Health Equity Research
University of North Carolina School of Medicine

As a female scholar of color, early in my career I often sought out leaders that embodied the characteristics that I hoped to cultivate throughout my career—a different way of leading that harnesses the power of diverse perspectives. More recently, I began reflecting on the early days of my career and wished my younger self had had access to the insights and pieces of wisdom from leaders from diverse backgrounds. While I do not have the ability to time travel, I do have a voice and passion for telling the stories of diverse leaders. It was realizing that there was still a void that those voices could fill that led to the creation of the podcast A Different Kind of Leader. For over two years, four seasons, and 48 episodes, A Different Kind of Leader (DKL) has been dedicated to featuring incredible, diverse leaders and their journeys, insights, and experiences in their personal and leadership journey. In this day and age, the problems that our organizations face are complex, and we benefit from having as many perspectives and voices as possible to help develop the most creative and sustainable solutions.

Continue reading “A Different Kind of Leader”

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The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Amplified the Effects of Racism on Mental Health

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Amplified the Effects of Racism on Mental Health blog post
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Celia B. Fisher, Ph.D.
Marie Ward Doty University Chair in Ethics
Professor of Psychology
Director, Center for Ethics Education
Director, HIV/Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Institute
Fordham University

Social Card for Insights Blog postPeople from racial and ethnic minorities in the United States have borne a disproportionately higher burden of COVID-19 infection and mortality. During the pandemic, depression and anxiety among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN), Asian, Black, and Hispanic people have also increased. These disparities are rooted in long-standing racial and ethnic inequities in medical and behavioral health treatment utilization and access to culturally relevant health services.

Racial discrimination has long been documented as a psychosocial stressor among racial and ethnic minority individuals and national surveys indicate racism increased during the current pandemic. During the pandemic racially and ethnically marginalized persons in the U.S. were also more likely to be employed in the health care work force or as frontline workers in industries such as food services, pharmacies, personal care and public transportation. Employment in these positions not only increased risk of COVID-19 infection, but increased public perception that racial and ethnic groups were more likely to be infected with the coronavirus. Simultaneously, the U.S, saw an upsurge in racially based hate crimes, particularly directed against Asian Americans. The surge in racial bias and violence underscores the urgency of studying the effects of pandemic-related forms of victimization and discrimination on the mental health of racial and ethnic youth and adults in the U. S. Continue reading “The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Amplified the Effects of Racism on Mental Health”

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