Promoting Psychological Research and Training on Health Disparities Issues at Ethnic Minority Serving Institutions (ProDIGs)
The ProDIGs initiative seeks to increase the capacity of ethnic minority-serving postsecondary institutions and faculty to engage in health disparities research and to encourage student involvement in health disparities research training. ProDIGs offers small grants and a program of professional development activities targeted to early career faculty at these institutions to support activities associated with the preparation of an initial research or program/curriculum development application for federal or foundation funding.
Faculty at ethnic minority serving post-secondary institutions (e.g., Hispanic-serving institutions, historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and those community colleges serving primarily minority student populations) are eligible. Please see complete eligibility requirements.
While there is no formal application to complete, applicants should include the following materials with their submission:
Cover memo and recent curriculum vitae.
Letter(s) of support from your respective academic department/program.
A detailed budget of your proposed research or program/curriculum development effort.
For further information please contact:
Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs
American Psychological Association
Attention: ProDIGS Grant
750 First St., NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Phone: (202) 336-6029
Fax: (202) 336-6040
Sinead Younge, PhD, assistant professor at Morehouse College proposed research on "Development of an Urban Community Garden as a Teaching Tool to Promote Health in Underserved Communities." Dr. Younge's proposed project was designed to integrate program and curriculum development into community-based behavioral and health research experiences — specifically, to use community based participatory action research (PAR) strategies to help define the needs of Atlanta's diverse community, West End. A community garden in West End would not only be a valuable asset to residents, but it would promote university and community partnerships. The project tasked Morehouse College students to assist in identifying the needs of residents in regards to their sustainability needs and practices. Dr. Younge was awarded $6,500.
Lesia M. Ruglass, PhD, of CUNY-The City College of New York proposed research on "Racial/Ethnic Differences in Marijuana Cue Reactivity." Dr. Ruglass' proposed project was designed to examine the racial and ethnic differences among marijuana cues and cue reactivity found in individuals with marijuana use disorders. Although substance abuse rates seem to be constant amongst all racial groups, there is an outsized amount of differences many ethnic minorities experience socially and medically. Many illnesses unreasonably affect minorities as a consequence of drug/substance use. Dr. Ruglass proposed to research why racial/ethnic minorities experience health disparities in substance abuse by delving into the major racial/ethnic differences between marijuana cues and cue reactivity. Dr. Rugless recruited a diverse population from The City College and The Psychological Center at The City College of New York, located in Harlem, to assess three phases of craving, anxiety, mood states, pictorial stimuli, EEG measurement, executive control and cue reactivity over an 18-month period. Dr. Ruglass was awarded $6,500.
Nhan L. Truong PhD, of Tougaloo College proposed research on "HIV Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Gay Identified and Non-Gay Identified African-American Men Who Have Sex With Men in the Jackson, Miss., Area." Dr. Truong's project was designed to investigate factors that affect the decision-making processes in regards to HIV risk, such as sexual identity, race, gender, family, religion and spirituality. He targeted a population of young African American men living in Jackson, Miss., who have sex with men. Due to the differences in how these men identify themselves, the project was created to explore what social psychological factors play a role in contributing to gay identified and non-gay identified African American males engaging in HIV sexual risk activities/behaviors, in order to identify the similarities and differences each group shares when deciding to engage in risky sexual behavior. Dr. Truong developed structured interviews over an eighteen-month period to determine participants' perceptions of masculinity amongst young black men who have sex with men, and their thoughts on HIV sexual risk behaviors. The findings were promised to be integrated into a National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) grant, then evolved into an intervention study to assist in creating successful HIV intervention programs that target gay identified and non-gay identified African American populations. Dr. Truong was awarded $6,500.
Toni Stepter Harris, PhD, assistant professor at Virginia State University proposed research on “Predictors of Obesity in a Cross Section of African Americans: A Multifaceted and Longitudinal Approach.” Dr. Harris sought to provide strategies for the prevention of obesity and subsequent chronic illness by addressing unhealthy behaviors from a biocultural co-constructivism perspective and creating a database of health statistics for investigators at Virginia State University.
Torhonda Corliss Lee, PhD, assistant professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University proposed research on “Cultivating a Culturally Competent Public Health Force: Development and Implementation of a Continuing Education Curriculum.” Dr. Lee intended to conduct vigorous research and ongoing continuing education and training in the area of cultural competence at Florida A & M University’s Institute of Public Health.
Munyi Shea, PhD, assistant professor at California State University, Los Angeles focused on “Parenting Influences on Bullying Involvement in Asian and Latino Immigrant Children.” Dr. Shea intended to examine parenting behaviors — including parenting styles and parental involvement — of Asian and Latino immigrant parents and the subsequent effect on their child’s bullying involvement (perpetration, victimization or both) and health outcomes.
Maureen A. Allwood, PhD, a psychologist at CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice focused on "Stress, trauma and physiological reactivity among minority youth" and sought to further our understanding of the developmental aspects of stress response by examining trauma exposures, posttraumatic stress symptoms, delinquent behaviors and psychophysiological stress reactivity among 4 groups (trauma-exposed, delinquent youth, a combined group, and controls) of 12- to 17-year-old urban youth.
Russ Espinoza, PhD, a counseling psychologist at California State University, Fullerton proposed to examine "Latino student usage of counseling and health services at California State University, Fullerton". Dr. Espinoza sought to both determine why Latino students significantly underutilize university counseling and health services, and test an intervention for increasing such usage.
Mariann Weierich, PhD, a psychologist at CUNY's Hunter College, proposed to focus her efforts on "Race-related differences in neural process of affect in trauma-exposed adults," and training students to fully incorporate ethnicity and race within a comprehensive clinical neuroscience approach to trauma-related stress. The study focused on examining neural processing of affective information in African American and Caucasian adults without PTSD who are exposed to trauma through use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Kisha Braithwaite Holden, PhD, assistant professor at Morehouse School of Medicine and associate director for Community Voices for the Underserved, was awarded $6,500 for her research project focused on “Understanding Depression among Diverse African American Women.” Dr. Holden's project involved a diverse cross-section of 60 low-, middle- and upper-income African American women over the age of 18 from the greater Atlanta metro area, and included Master's of Public Health students to explore (a) the relationship between depressive symptoms and the prevalence and predictors of increased vulnerability as indicated by psychological factors such as cognitive style, self-concept, stress and socio-cultural factors; and, (b) develop culturally relevant strategies to increase understanding of depression.
Elizabeth Diane Cordero, PhD, from San Diego State University (SDSU), Imperial Valley proposed research on “Latinas, Body Image, and Breast-Cancer Surgery” that explored the impact of perceptions of beauty, self-esteem and familiarity on attitudes and opinions of Latinas who have mastectomy scars, and determined whether decisions regarding methods of treatment are influenced by identified sociocultural phenomena. The study included a sample of Latino/a undergraduate students from SDSU and Imperial Valley community members at least 18-years-old who were exposed to randomly assigned photographs of famous and non-famous Latinas with and without mastectomy scars. SDSU undergraduates assisted with the execution of the project and completed an online tutorial on appropriate research techniques and research ethics when working with human subjects. Dr. Cordero received $5,220 for her research.
Sara Chiara Haden, PhD, assistant professor at Long Island University was awarded $6,000 for her proposal entitled “Community Violence Exposure Prevalence and Outcomes among Urban Young Adults.” Dr. Haden's multi-phased research sought to "expand the research on risk and protection factors related to adverse mental health outcomes of exposure to community violence". The study involved 60 young adults aged 18-24 residing in identified urban areas, and included psychophysiological measures of heart rate and salivary cortisol while subjects were exposed to increased stress. The specific goals of the overall project were to evaluate the prevalence and severity of differing forms of community violence exposure of young urban adults, to assess and predict outcomes related to community violence, and to test the extent to which perceptions of social support and coping styles are related to community violence exposure.
Kevin L. Nadal, PhD, assistant professor and deputy director of the Forensic Mental Health Counseling Program at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice-City University of New York proposed a study on “Mental Health Impacts of Microaggressions” that sought to develop quantitative measures of racial microaggressions for the encouragement of future studies on the detrimental impact of such actions. The study initially utilized approximately 150 respondents recruited online that completed an open-ended survey, whose results were used to develop a second questionnaire disseminated to approximately 300-400 individuals that tested for correlation and construct validity. Assistance was provided by two masters' level students in forensic and counseling psychology who performed research tasks associated with the study, including recruitment of participants, dissemination and data collection, data entry, attendance at research meetings and other related tasks. Dr. Nadal was awarded $6,500.
Marie Hammond, PhD, of Tennessee State University received $6,500 for her project, “Personality Factors and Mental Health Problems among African Americans and Whites: A Pilot Study.” The study proposed to evaluate the viability of using an online human subjects database for gathering data from community mental health center clients and evaluate the impact of personality on presenting symptoms of 50 adult African American and 50 adult White patients at a community-based mental health clinic, with the end goal of improving diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and mental health issues for this identified population. The study also evaluated the efficacy of using human subject pool management software as an enhancement to gathering data, thus continuing to test the relationship between personality and symptoms using an online assessment completion.
Wendi Williams, PhD, of Long Island University designed a program entitled “Project Sister Circle” to investigate the psychosocial and sociocultural factors that influence the health behaviors and attitudes among African-descent women and girls. The project included eight to 10 adolescent girls attending an urban school grades K-8. They were involved in an 8-week integrative counseling intervention, which incorporated spiritual components. Afterwards, the project examined the physical, mental health and psychosocial adjustment outcomes. Dr. Williams was awarded $6,500 for her research.
Ekwenzi Gray, PhD, director of the Drug Education and Prevention Program at Howard University in Washington, D.C. proposed research on “Personal and Cultural Factors Influencing Black College Student Attitudes Toward Seeking Mental Health Treatment.” She sought to "examine personal factors such as acculturation, cultural discrimination, exposure to mental health services and their influence on attitudes toward seeking mental health treatment."
Hollie Jones, PhD, coordinator of the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Campaign Against Diabetes, Center for Human Environments Graduate Center studied “The Relationship between Medical Mistrust, Perceptions of Healthcare Discrimination and Self-Care Behaviors among Ethnic Minorities with Type 2 Diabetes.” The project explored the relationship between perceptions of healthcare discrimination, medical mistrust and diabetes lifestyle choices (i.e., diet, exercise and diabetes medication adherence) among black and Hispanic students aged 40 and over with Type II Diabetes.
Assistant Professor Debbiesiu Lee, PhD, of the University of Miami proposed research on “Reducing Mental Health Disparities by Training for Cultural Competence.” This project sought to increase the cultural competence of mental health professionals through emphasis on increased cognitive flexibility and the appropriate application of cultural knowledge to new situations.
Assistant Professor Regina Miranda, PhD, of Hunter College of the City University of New York proposed research on “Assessing Acculturative Stress and Perceived Discrimination as Predictors of Suicidality and Attitudes Toward Mental Health Treatment among an Ethnically-Diverse Sample of College Students.” This study sought to identify ethnic differences on rates of suicidal thinking, behavior and the pursuit of mental health treatment among ethnic college students, and examined the impact of acculturative stress and perceived discrimination on suicidal thoughts and attitudes for seeking mental health treatment.
Assistant Professor Juliana van Olphen, PhD, from San Francisco State University proposed research on “Developing a Community-Based Participatory Research Proposal to Explore the Impact of Stigma on the Health of Women Leaving San Francisco County Jail.” This project assessed the relationship between stigma, personal experiences and perceptions, and drug and mental health problems faced by women released from the San Francisco after six months, and identified pathways and priorities for intervention for improved health, ease of community reintegration and reduced reentry to the criminal justice system.
Ruth Chao, PhD, assistant professor at Tennessee State University proposed research on “Multiculturally Sensitive Mental Health Checklist: Development, Factor Analysis, Reliability, and Validity.” The project developed a mental health checklist that is multiculturally sensitive and includes racism-related stressors for ethnic minority students experiencing psychological problems. Dr. Chao studied the psychometric properties and reliability and validity of the checklist through identified statistical analyses.
Patrick Uchigakiuchi, PhD, associate professor from the Chaminade University of Honolulu developed a “Research and Training Proposal to Increase Minority Mental Health Professionals Among Asian and Pacific Islander Groups.” The proposal sought to utilize a two-pronged approach to create a research and training program track at the early stages of undergraduate education to increase the number of mental health professionals from Asian and Pacific Islander groups (including Hawaiians, Samoans, Filipinos and Micronesians) through: attainment of specific research skills focused on educational advancement and the development of a certificate program through the Department of Psychology in behavioral counseling; and the development of a clinical training track to teach mental health counselors to work with communities with large populations of underserved Asian and Pacific Islanders.
Sandra Suther, PhD, and Levi Ross, PhD, assistant professors from Florida A & M University proposed to develop "Formative Research to Develop a Genetic Health Education Curriculum" at FAMU through a multi-pronged approach that included: the establishment of a Genetic Health Education Curriculum advisory board; the identification of interdisciplinary faculty across FAMU with expertise in genetic health education curriculum as instructors; and the examination of current and existing public health genetics curricula to identify components for possible integration into the proposed curriculum. This course would be the first genetic health education course to be included into the curriculum of a degree earning program at a college or university within the Florida State University system.
Assistant Professor, Veda E. Brown, PhD, of Prairie View A&M University, examined “Mental, Social, and Emotional Factors Associated with Economically Disadvantaged Adolescents' Violent/Aggressive Behavioral Patterns: Middle School Students' Reported Beliefs About their Self Worth, Relationship with Peers, Adult Role Models and Value of A Good Quality Education and the Importance of Sound Communication with Parents.” Dr. Brown's research involved 100-150 identified economically disadvantaged African American and Hispanic adolescents in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grades, and examined the critical factors of and risk behaviors associated with aggressive and violent behavioral patterns in low-income and/or predominately ethnic schools in rural and large urban communities. The study also focused on identification of processes and approaches for improving diagnosis, prevention and the treatment of these identified aggressive behaviors.
Assistant Professor, Daniel Cukor, PhD, from SUNY Downstate Medical Center focused on the “Psychological Assessment of African Americans on Dialysis.” The research sought to explore the emotional state of 50 African Americans patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) in an inner-city dialysis center. The prevalence of depression and the patients' quality of life was assessed. Dr. Cukor's study also sought to understand what culturally specific factors have impacted their quality of life.
Assistant Professor, Tiffany D. Floyd PhD, of The City College of New York studied “The Effect of Family Communication on Cancer Screening Behaviors of African Americans and Latinos.” Dr. Floyd's research explored how varying levels of general, health-specific, and cancer-specific communication within families relates to the cancer screening behaviors of individual family members. By explaining how family communications can serve to promote cancer screening among African Americans and Latinos, this research helped reduce the uneven burden of cancer experienced by these populations.
Assistant Professor, Lisa Sanchez-Johnson, PhD, from the Cancer Research Center of Hawai'i, examined the “Cultural Variables in Latino-Centered Obesity Assessment” by exploring the role of acculturation, acculturative stress, ethnic identity and cultural values as these affect diet, physical activity and body images of 60 Latinas, ages 25-65. The study also identified practical considerations regarding the development of a culturally proficient obesity intervention using the identified population.
Assistant Professor, Scyatta Wallace, PhD, of SUNY Downstate Medical Center lead a curriculum development effort entitled “Project SMART: A University-Community Partnership to Develop a Health Disparities Research Course for High School Students.” Dr. Wallace's project sough to develop a research curriculum that will educate and expose ethnic minority high school students to issues of health disparities, psychological and behavioral approaches to eliminating health disparities, behavioral health research, and behavioral research careers. The goal of Project SMART was to encourage these students to seek and pursue behavioral research careers that address health disparities.
Assistant Professor, Ann Marie Yali, PhD, of The City College of New York assessed “Religious Comforts and Strains in Low Income Cancer Survivors.” The purpose of the ongoing pilot project was to examine the construct validity of religious comfort and strain in a diverse sample of cancer patients. Dr. Yali's long term objective was to develop and validate a population appropriate measure of religious comfort and strain with psychometric properties necessary for use in longitudinal natural history and intervention studies of cancer patients.
Assistant Professor Carlotta Arthur, PhD, of Meharry Medical College examined “Psychological Stress, Optimism and Wound Healing in African Americans.” Dr. Arthur’s research surveyed 60 low-income African American adult male and female oral surgery patients of the Meharry Medical College Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic to initiate a pilot study on the relationship among stress, optimism and wound healing.
Assistant Professor Ling-Chuan Chu, PhD, from Delaware State University focused on “Body Image and Weight-related Issues among African American College Students.” The research sought to use focus groups methods to explore the effect of body image on African American college students’ perceptions of weight-related issues and strategies for motivating such college students to lose and maintain weight. The study also introduced group interventions to help African American college students maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent weight gain.
Assistant Specialist Su Yeong Kim, PhD, of the Center on the Family, University of Hawai’i at Manoa examined “Adolescent Adjustment in Chinese Immigrant Families” by investigating contemporaneous relationships among parent-child acculturation discrepancy, unsupportive parenting and adolescent adjustment in Chinese immigrant families, and collecting and analyzing a second and third wave of data of an ongoing study involving 400 families. These data were be used in testing a causal model where initial levels of parent-child acculturation discrepancy predict the quality of parenting practices and adolescent adjustment, and explored whether parent gender, adolescent gender and adolescent translating activities moderate the proposed relationships.
Assistant Professor Glen Milstein, PhD, of The City College of The City University of New York assessed “Church-Based Intervention to Reduce Mental Illness Stigma and the Disparity of Mental Health Care among Latinos” through conduct of a bilingual study of a church-based intervention of 64 Latinos designed to reduce mental illness stigma and increase willingness to seek mental health care in the Washington Heights section of New York. Psychology students from City College assisted in conducting this study.
Assistant Professor Susan Sy, PhD, of Mount St. Mary’s College proposed research on “Mental Health in Daughters of Immigrant Families.” The project surveyed 250 Latina daughters of immigrant families to gain a better understanding of stress-related risk and protective factors that promote mental health resiliency in this population during their transition to adulthood. Dr. Sy utilized undergraduate students from Mount St. Mary’s core psychology courses in the development, administration and analysis of the core survey, and provided these students structured coursework on minority mental health research.
Assistant Professor Jocelyn Turner-Musa from Morgan State University’s focused on the “Impact of family religious/spiritual beliefs on enhancing mental and physical health outcomes among African Americans with chronic kidney disease.” This study surveyed 50 African American families with an adult member diagnosed with chronic renal disease treated by outpatient hemodialysis, assessed the extent to which religious beliefs aggregate within a family, and examined whether these beliefs influence mental health outcomes of these patients with end stage renal disease. In addition, Dr. Turner-Musa conducted an extensive literature review that was used to develop an annotated bibliography of recent research in the area of family process, social support, religiosity/spirituality and chronic illness between African Americans, and solicited the consultation of two identified experts the field of chronic renal failure and interventions with African Americans confronted with chronic illness. Dr. Turner Musa identified Paul Kimmell, MD, a professor at George Washington University Medical Center and former Director of Diabetic Nephropathy and HIV Programs at the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and Faye Belgrave, PhD, professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University who has expertise in the area of culture in the context of preventive interventions respectively. Both are well published in their identified fields. Dr. Turner-Musa also anticipated one manuscript will be developed based on the findings of the proposed investigation and submitted for publication. Dr. Turner-Musa was awarded $6,500.
Assistant Professor Jeffery L. Kibler of Jackson State University examined “Alcohol use, post-traumatic stress and risky sexual behaviors.” This study assessed the association between PTSD symptoms and sexual risk behaviors and the mediating role of alcohol use through a sample of 40 African American woman age 18 years and older with high levels of PTSD symptoms. Dr. Kibler hypothesized that PTSD symptom level will be positively associated with sexual behavior, and alcohol use will mediate the relationship between PTSD symptom level and risky sexual behavior using scores greater than 44, as indexed by the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist Civilian version (PCL-C). The selection of African American women as the study sample was based on the exceedingly high and increasing rate of heterosexual HIV contraction in this population. Dr. Kibler was awarded $6,900.
Chair, Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator Lera Joyce Johnson of Virginia State University focused her efforts on the “Virginia State University Collaborative Minority Serving Institution Sexually Transmitted Disease Research Program.” Two graduate assistants surveyed the research literature related to adolescent sexual behavior and related interventions, and conducted focus groups with 48 persons related to their knowledge of STDs, peer influence on risky sexual behavior and other associated issues. The long range goals of the project were to strengthen the sexually transmitted disease research capacity of ethnic minority serving institutions; to develop effective peer involvement intervention techniques in social and behavioral change; to increase student knowledge about STD symptoms, transmission and containment; and to address the racial and ethnic disparity health issue surrounding STD’s through a decrease in the prevalence of STD’s on minority-serving institution campuses in the southeast United States. Dr. Johnson received $6,500 to support her project.
Associate Professor Phyllis Ford-Booker of North Carolina A&T University studied “Health Disparities in African American at Risk for Coronary Health Disease: Factors Influencing Treatment Seeking Behaviors.” This study included the development and testing of an interview protocol related to socioeconomic factors, (e.g., low income, lack of private medical insurance, access to medical care), demographic factors, (e.g., age, gender, marital status, education) and psychosocial factors, (e.g., attitudes, cultural beliefs, knowledge about CVD) that may impede the seeking of treatment by African Americans showing signs of possible coronary disease. The protocol will be administered to a sample of 100 African Americans demographically similar to those who present for
medical treatment of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Ford-Booker was awarded $6,600.
Assistant Professor Safiya Omari of Jackson State University sough to “Explore the Psychosocial, Cultural, and Environmental Correlates of Obesity and Overweight in Black Women in Mississippi” by surveying 40 African American women 18 years of age or older residing in Jackson, Miss. The study sought to facilitate the identification of issues relevant to understanding obesity and overweight, and the complexity of the interactions among the two factors. Dr. Omari also sought to address questions related to the specific factors that impede the salience of the negative health implications of being overweight and obese in this population, such that weight loss and exercise are viewed as unimportant. Examinations of the narratives of the participants were hoped to reveal themes related to psychosocial, cultural and environmental factors that support the prevalence of overweight and obesity in this population and the nature of their associations with psychological factors such as resilience, self-esteem, health, loss of control and life satisfaction, and sociocultural facts related to acculturation and food preferences. Dr. Omari received $6,000.
Assistant Professor Vicki Mack of Clark Atlanta University focused on the analysis of African American adolescents’ attitudes toward healthy-eating and lifestyle, their healthful behaviors, and their awareness and concerns about cancer. This study sought to examine the attitudes and behaviors related to healthy eating and lifestyle among African-American adolescents of varying socioeconomic status. The study also looked at the influences of support from others, knowledge of the benefits of healthful behaviors, knowledge of the disparities, experiences with cancer, and parental influences on healthful behaviors. The objectives of the study were accomplished by conducting a survey of 100 African-American adolescents from the Atlanta Metropolitan area who range in age from 14-18 years. A second instrument or subscale was be used to validate the instrument. Dr. Mack was awarded $7,000.
Assistant Professor Angela Farris-Watkins of Spelman College assessed “HIV/AIDS prevention at Historically Black Colleges and Universities” by surveying a sample of HBCUs’s regarding their use of campus-focused HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention strategies. The study sought to determine the extent to which HBCUS’s are engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention, examine HIV/AIDS prevention strategies that are exercised at a representative sampling of HBCUS’s, determine general areas of need with respect to HIV/AIDS prevention (i.e., information, intervention, resources, and evaluations), and engage Spelman College students in health research with HIV/AIDS prevention for purposes of personal merit and significant scholarship. External support was given by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education’s (NAFEO) Division of Health, a federally funded organization that has developed a system of programs, activities and guidelines to mobilize and educate HBCUS student populations. NAFEO has established relationships with over 100 HBCUS’s nationwide, including Spelman, and provided key informant contact information to the project on twenty-five HBCUS’s, representing a range of general U.S. regions. Dr. Farris-Watkins was awarded $7,000.