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Cliff Notes

Quick summaries of research we’re publishing and presenting.

Holtz, K., Simkus, A., Fleming, M., Wanty, N., & Twombly, E. (2023). How self-ratings of risk-taking, self-control, and leadership relate to youth vaping onset.

Youth with higher vape usage had significantly higher self-ratings of risk taking than youth who had not vaped. But surprisingly, youth who reported vaping regularly rated themselves highly on leadership and self-control. Understanding the psychographic characteristics of vaping youth can inform high-impact prevention and cessation messages.

Wanty, N.I., Cooper, D.L., Simkus A., Twombly, E.C., McCalla, S., Holtz, K.D., et al  (2022). A provider-based approach to address racial disparities in lupus clinical trial participation.

An online educational course to train medical providers to refer Black and Latino patients to lupus clinical trials showed positive impacts on knowledge, attitudes, and intentions to refer.  These findings suggest that involving medical providers may increase much-needed minority representation in clinical trials.

Holtz, K., Simkus, A., Fleming, M., Wanty, N., & Twombly, E. (2022). Sleep deprivation and adolescent susceptibility to vaping in the United States.

Adolescent sleep deprivation is associated with susceptibility to vaping, which suggests new approaches for prevention.

Holtz, K., Simkus, A., Fleming, M., Wanty, N., & Twombly, E. (March, 2022). How exposure to influencers promoting vapes on social media relates to degree of use among adolescents

Youth with higher vape usage report significantly greater exposure to influencers promoting vapes and report significantly more perceived influence from celebrities and influencers.

Research Briefs

KDHRC has things to say. You can find our research in top journals,
leading conferences, and right here, in our Informing Public Health research briefs,
which summarize our research advances.

May 2023

Nicole I. Wanty, Dexter L. Cooper, Andrew Simkus, Kristen D. Holtz

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder that disproportionately affects women and minorities. Estimates report up to 90% of lupus patients are women. Black and Latino individuals experience up to three-times the lupus incidence rate, more severe disease symptoms, a higher frequency of lupus-related complications, and a sharply higher mortality rate compared to non-Latino White individuals.

January 2023

Dexter L. Cooper, Morgan L. Fleming, Kristen D. Holtz, Nicole I. Wanty, and Andrew Simkus

Tooth decay, the most common and preventable chronic disease among children in the U.S., afflicts nearly one of four Americans ages 3 to 5. The prevalence of tooth decay increases from 21 percent among children ages 2-5 to 54-59 percent among adolescents ages 12-19, which indicates a persistent pattern of oral health problems that worsens with age. Tooth decay, especially when untreated, creates lasting and substantial physical and psychosocial consequences for children and adolescents.

November 2019

Kristen D. Holtz, Eric C. Twombly, Nicole I. Wanty, Dianna Bonilla, Motolani Aina, and Fakari J. Gresham

Since their introduction to the marketplace only a decade ago, electronic cigarettes (more commonly called vapes) have been rapidly adopted for use by youth, creating a public health epidemic. In the U.S., from 2017 to 2018, vaping by youth increased by 78 percent. Now, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students – roughly one in five high school students and one in twenty middle school students – have vaped in the past year.1 Vapes are the most commonly used tobacco delivery product among youth and show youth usage rates substantially higher than any other drugs of abuse.

April 2019

Nicole I. Wanty, Eric C. Twombly, Dianna Bonilla, and Kristen D. Holtz

Childhood tooth decay is a significant public health problem in the United States (U.S.) and one of the country’s greatest unmet health needs (Boyles, 2011). Not only can tooth decay produce lasting physical pain and emotional suffering for children afflicted with it, but it also has substantial societal ramifications, such as costing U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually, mostly because of emergency room care for preventable tooth pain (Pettinato, Webb, & Seale, 2000; The Pew Center on the States, 2012). And though all children are susceptible to tooth decay, it is disproportionately evident in specific demographic groups. Indeed, Latino children and children living in poverty have greater amounts of tooth decay, more severe tooth decay, and more untreated decay (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research [NIDCR], 2011).

May 2018

Eric C. Twombly, Kristen D. Holtz, and Robin M. Campbell

Health nonprofits increasingly use promotores de salud (promotores) to connect low-income Latinos with health services, provide health education, and empower clients with positive coping skills (Vega, Rodriguez, & Gruskin, 2009). Because promotores typically come from the communities in which they serve, they are culturally competent peers who can help many Latinos overcome the language barriers and institutional distrust that limit their willingness to seek services (Elder, Ayala, Parra-Medina, & Talavera, 2009; Nemcek & Sabatier, 2003).

November 2017

Eric C. Twombly, Rosa M. Smith, Debra S. Kozlowski, and Kristen D. Holtz

In recent years, local nonprofit community-based health providers who serve Latino populations have increasingly turned to promotores, or community lay health workers, to facilitate their service provision. Promotores work in a variety of capacities at nonprofits: as front-line service providers who supply basic services and as health educators who give valuable information on important health topics. The rationale is that promotores’ lay status as community members allows them to connect with Latinos in culturally competent and sensitive ways, thereby creating trustworthy relationships between nonprofit providers and Latinos. These relationships can help overcome Latinos’ mistrust of the mainstream medical system and reduce other barriers to care.

November 2016

Eric C. Twombly, Nicole I. Wanty, & Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication

Science literacy and academic achievement on science topics empower youth to think critically and understand and apply scientific findings in their daily lives. As youth age into adulthood, their scientific literacy allows them not only to make relatively informed medical, political, economic, and social decisions concerning individual and societal welfare, but it also provides them the impetus to contribute societally through scientific and technological inquiry and advancement (American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, 1993; Miller et al., 1992). One needs only to look at the technological and computing revolutions of the past two decades to understand the importance of promoting scientific inquiry. However, students in the United States perform lower on science achievement tests than many of their international peers (National Center for Education Statistics, 2004). Only 68 percent of fourth grade students perform at or above a basic achievement level. This rate drops to 59 percent by eighth grade and 54 percent by twelfth grade (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2006). A key question becomes how can teachers, parents, academics, and policymakers in the U.S. improve the science performance of the nation’s youth, thereby making them more scientifically literate and empowered to significantly contribute scientifically as adults?

December 2014

Rosa M. Steen, Eric C. Twombly, Louise C. Palmer, & Kristen D. Holtz, KDH Research & Communication

A common public health question is how to effectively provide educational services to school-aged children with chronic illnesses. These children, whom we identify in this brief as “chronically ill learners” or “CIL,” suffer from a range of mild to severe chronic illnesses, such as asthma, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, among others (Kaffenberger, 2006; Taras & Potts-Datema, 2005; Moonie et al., 2006). There are an estimated 4.4 million CIL in the United States who miss school annually because of chronic illnesses (Kaffenberger, 2006; Shaw & McCabe, 2008). The average annual number of days that a child is absent from school varies by chronic illness, ranging from roughly eight to 12 days for a child with asthma to as many as 80 days for a child with cancer, but, on average, a child with a chronic illness is absent 16 days per year, compared with three days for a typically healthy child (Moonie et al., 2006; Vance & Eiser, 2001; McDougall et al., 2006).

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