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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 2024

Andrew Simkus, Kristen D. Holtz, Eric C. Twombly, Nicole I. Wanty, and Morgan L. Fleming

As the COVID-19 pandemic surged in 2020, families suddenly faced a multitude of often-haphazard adaptations to school, work, and personal life. Intense social-distancing mandates accompanied these major transitions, distancing individuals further from friends and relatives. While a combination of factors affected pandemic-related stress, forced social isolation was perhaps most detrimental in terms of potential long-term effects, a particular concern for developing adolescents.

April 2024

Andrew Simkus and Kristen D. Holtz

Harvard University and Brown University collaborated with the Census Bureau to build an interactive tool, which makes it easier to explore an impressive amount of available data regarding social mobility across the United States. This tool, “the Opportunity Atlas” compiled anonymous data from the Census and Federal income tax returns on 20 million Americans who were tracked from childhood through adulthood.

March 2024

Andrew Simkus, Kristen D. Holtz, Eric C. Twombly, Morgan L. Fleming, and Nicole I. Wanty

Curbing the uptake of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) among adolescents is an important public health initiative because of the wide range of health and behavioral problems associated with ENDS use. One such problem is trouble with sleeping. Research has found that the stimulatory effects of nicotine from ENDS use disrupt sleep, however the directionality of this relationship has not been thoroughly explored, and sleep problems may increase the likelihood an individual initiates ENDS use.

February 2024

Andrew Simkus and Kristen Holtz

In November of 2022, OpenAI previewed one of the most advanced large language models (LLMs) available to the public, Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer (better known as ChatGPT). LLMs like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard are a breakthrough in artificial intelligence (AI) allowing automatic learning and communication through natural language interactions with human users, information from the world wide web, and even other LLMs. The capabilities of LLMs have been expanding exponentially over a very short time.

January 2024

Kristen D. Holtz, Andrew Simkus, Eric C. Twombly, Morgan Fleming, and Nicole I. Wanty

ENDS manufacturers use loopholes to skirt advertising bans on ENDS by paying influencers to promote ENDS products on personal social media pages. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram have taken steps to ban the use of influencers in this way, research has proved that influencer promotional posts about ENDS are still breaching the rules and reaching the eyes of many adolescent social media users. According to The Guardian, tobacco companies are also circumventing bans by establishing their own pages on social media sites. Efforts to track the degree adolescents view such promotional advertising have discovered that even minimal exposure to social media content promoting ENDS relates to greater intentions of using ENDS in the future.

November 2023

Kristen D. Holtz, Eric C. Twombly, Andrew Simkus, and Nicole I. Wanty

The increasing use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), also known as e-cigarettes or vapes, among youth has become an important, recent concern. There is increasing evidence that such use, typically referred to as vaping, produces substantial negative health and behavioral consequences, potentially long-term. As a nicotine delivery device, ENDS are attractive to many youths because they tend to be easily obtained and are odorless to use and easy to conceal. ENDS may deliver nicotine and other harmful chemicals at levels that surpass conventional cigarettes. Taken on the whole, ENDS and their use by youth constitute an important public health and public policy problem.

September 2023

Dexter L. Cooper, Andrew Simkus, Nicole I. Wanty, Annie McNeill, and Kristen Holtz

In our previous Practice brief 22, CHW Support of Male Caregivers – Conversations and Takeaways we explored some of the key insights that we gathered during our virtual convening to discuss nuanced needs, experiences, and perceptions of male caregivers. In addition to these topics, the convening also discussed potential solutions and strategies for helping community health workers (CHWs) identify, build rapport with, and ultimately offer support to male caregivers. In this brief we review findings on this topic to inform future CHW-led interventions and caregiver support services.

August 2023

Dexter L. Cooper, Andrew Simkus, Nicole I. Wanty, Annie McNeill, and Kristen Holtz

In the United States (US), there is a growing need for informal caregivers, coinciding with the number of baby boomers now transitioning into later stages of life that require support with daily tasks. Informal caregivers are family members or close friends of aging individuals who provide voluntary support with physical and/or mental disabilities to a care recipient. While the act of caregiving may be a meaningful role, it often comes with burdens that may affect the mental or physical health of the caregiver.

June 2023

Andrew Simkus, Annie McNeill, Nicole I. Wanty, and Kristen D. Holtz

Clinical trials (CTs) in the United States (US) have struggled to adequately enroll minority racial and ethnic groups to participate in drug efficacy studies. Lack of representation in CTs makes it harder to assess the associated risks and benefits of a new treatment among minority patients. Without accurate assessments of a drug’s effects on minority patients, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is limited in their ability to approve new treatments for use among minority populations.

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