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Positive Mental Health Effects of Attending an HBCU

Do Black students who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) experience less structural racism than those who attend predominantly white institutions (PWIs)? That’s the focus of an SPH study led by postdoctoral researcher Naomi Thyden, who traces the experiences of Black students through college and beyond at both types of institutions to assess mental health outcomes for Black students. “This research provides evidence that the HBCU environment can have a positive impact on long-term mental health outcomes for Black students,” Thyden notes.

Screening Pregnant Women for Intimate Partner Violence

“Intimate partner violence is too common and incredibly dangerous. Intimate partner homicide is a leading cause of maternal mortality, and every pregnant person who is physically, emotionally, or sexually hurt by an intimate partner deserves — at the very least — to be asked about it during health care visits. Public health policy and investment to address intimate partner violence in pregnant people should be improved.” 
Professor Katy Backes Kozhimannil

Is Intuitive Eating a Privilege?

Are hunger cues useful only to those who don’t experience them on a regular basis? SPH researchers led by postdoctoral research fellow Blair Burnette found that young adults and adolescents who struggle with food insecurity also practice less intuitive eating, which is the practice of responding to internal feelings of fullness and hunger. “Our results suggest that food insecurity has both immediate and potentially long-term impacts on one’s approach to intuitive eating,” Burnette says.


Dramatic Growth in Undergrad Public Health Degrees

Between 2001 and 2020, undergraduate public health degree conferrals grew 13.4% per year — a remarkable rate of growth that by 2020 allowed the undergraduate degree to overtake the master’s degree as the most conferred public health degree type in the U.S. “Increasing the number of people with undergraduate public health degrees could directly impact the ability to diversify the public health workforce, establish pathways for training, and ultimately rebuild the nation’s public health workforce,” said JP Leider, lead author and director of the Center for Public Health Systems at SPH.

Measuring Structural Racism

“A major challenge for research on structural racism as a root cause of health inequities is the difficulty in measuring and quantifying the degree to which it exists within a community. We know that structural racism exists, but as researchers, we need empirical evidence in order to quantifiably measure the relationship between structural racism and inequities in population health. We need to build the evidence base that allows health researchers to answer the fundamental question ‘How is racism operating here?’ in replicable ways.” 
Rachel Hardeman, founding director of Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity and Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity at SPH

The unrecognizable medical staff uses digital tablet to review medical chart.

Tracking the Rise in Ransomware Attacks on Health Care Providers

Healthcare delivery organizations have increased their reliance on information technology to serve their patients, which has also increased privacy risks, such as ransomware attacks. Between 2016 and 2021, the annual number of ransomware attacks on healthcare provider organizations more than doubled, exposing the personal health information of nearly 42 million individuals. To track this nefarious trend, SPH Assistant Professor Hannah Neprash and colleagues developed a database called the Tracking Healthcare Ransomware Events and Traits (THREAT), a unique tool that for the first time allows researchers to track the occurrence of ransomware attacks on healthcare provider organizations.

Half of American Children are Exposed to Averse Childhood Experiences (ACES)

Researchers from SPH’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center found that children’s exposure to ACES — traumatic events that include loss of a parent; emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; and exposure to violence in the household or community — varies substantially by race and ethnicity. Black children and American Indian and Alaska Native children have the highest rate of ACES exposure, while Asian and white children have the lowest rates of ACES exposure. The study highlights several strategies to reduce disparities in ACES exposure, including better access to child care, increased health insurance coverage, and improved social-emotional learning opportunities in schools.

Link Found Between Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain

A study co-led by researchers at SPH and the UMN Medical School found that long-term consumption of aspartame, saccharin, and diet beverages were linked to increased fat stores in the abdomen and fat within muscle. SPH Professor Lyn Steffen, a principal investigator on the study, advised that the findings “underscore the importance of finding alternatives to artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages, especially since these added sweeteners may have negative health consequences.”

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