Seed Grant Awards, 2016-2017

Congratulations to the 2016-2017 Seed Grant Award Recipients! Scroll down to see project abstracts.

Women, Men, Work, Family: Gender Inequality in Time Use in Transitional China

Qin Gao (Social Work)
Fuhua Zhai (Fordham)

Gender inequality at both work and the home front is widespread across countries, yet it is researched and debated in only some countries while remains understudied and sidelined in many others. In countries where gender inequality has garnered both academic and public attention, time use has become a new, important dimension that reflects the multifaceted gender inequality across work and family. China, the world’s most populous country and second largest economy, is largely missing from this dialogue. It is partly due to the lack of data availability and rigorous research on this topic and partly due to the absence of public awareness for this issue. There is an urgent need—from both academic and policy perspectives—to build evidence on this important topic and add the Chinese case into the global understanding of gender inequality as reflected in time use.
The objective of this seed grant proposal is to lay the groundwork for a larger study of gender inequality in time use in China. Specifically, the seed grant will support our work to: 1) complete a research paper on how education may help narrow the gender gap in time use among Chinese couples; 2) work with leading interdisciplinary scholars to expand data collection efforts that would enable continued investigation of gender inequality in time use in China; and 3) develop a larger-scale, multi-year grant proposal to study the determinants and consequences of gender inequality in time use in China, with a particular focus on how it might affect the long-term developmental trajectories of girls and boys. This proposed study can help build much needed evidence on gender inequality in China and provide implications for China’s work-family policies and beyond.

Migrant-related stressors, mental health, substance use and HIV risk behavior among long distance truck drivers in Zambia: A cross-sectional study

Lynn Michalopoulos (Social Work)
Fred Ssewemala (Social Work)
Nomagugu Ncube (Migration Health Unit)
Simona Simona (University of Zambia)

Zambia is a particularly burdened nation with 13% prevalence rates of the population from ages 15-49 living with HIV 1 . Mobility among Zambians has been identified as one of the essential forces of the AIDS epidemic 2 , with long distance truck drivers noted as a key population at risk for HIV in the country. A systematic review among both forced and unforced migrant populations from low and middle income countries has indicated a relationship between migrant-related stressors, mental health problems, substance use and HIV risk behavior 3 . Only one study has examined this relationship among truck drivers in Zambia 4 . The current study aims to build upon this research utilizing quantitative methods to inform the development of a culturally and contextually relevant HIV prevention intervention by: 1) describing labor migrant-related stressors, subsequent psychosocial outcomes and HIV risk behaviors among long distance truck drivers in Zambia; 2) examining the relationship between migrant-related stressors, psychosocial outcomes and HIV risk behavior among truck drivers in Zambia; and 3) examining potential differences between internal (Zambian) and external (Tanzanian, Congolese and Zimbabwean) truck drivers in Zambia. Methods: In collaboration with the International Organization for Migration in Zambia (IOM), the Truck Drivers Association of Zambia, and the University of Zambia (UNZA) School of Social Development Studies (i.e., social work) the current study will recruit 400 male truck drivers along 3 heavily trafficked truck routes in Zambia. Participants will include male truck drivers who are from Zambia, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe. The study will employ venue-based time space sampling methods 5 along the 3 routes at randomly selected truck stops. Trained interviewers who are employed as researchers at IOM who are fluent in the local language of the participant (Zambian-Bemba; Swahili-Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania; Zimbabwe-English) will administer the cross-sectional survey at the identified truck stops. Analysis: Basic descriptive statistics and bivariate associations will be conducted. A multiple logistic regression analysis will be conducted to examine the relationship between migrant-related stressors, psychosocial problems and HIV risk behaviors, with an interaction effect by migrant group. Further, multiple logistic regression analyses will be conducted to examine this relationship with HIV testing and STI/HIV status as an outcome. Next Steps: Findings will inform an application to the National Institute of Drug Abuse or National Institute of Mental Health through an R34 proposal which will be submitted September 2017. The pilot study will aim to adapt an evidence-based HIV intervention prevention utilizing the ADAPT-ITT methodology 6 which will take into account relevant factors found to contribute to truck drivers’ HIV risk (e.g. mental health problems, substance use, mobility) in the current study.

When ‘Opportunity’ Moves to You: Assessing Outcomes for Control Group Residents of the Moving to Opportunity Study in Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Lance Freeman (Urban Planning)
Valerie Stahl (Research Assistant)

This research project uses data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized social experiment in five US cities (Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York) to assess outcomes among residents that remained in inner-city neighborhoods during the course of the study. Previous research on the MTO study has focused on results among respondents in the experimental group who used vouchers to move from high to low-poverty areas. Such assessments of MTO fail to account for how control group neighborhoods were changing throughout the study period. This paper will consider outcomes among control group residents over time to consider the socio-economic effects of gentrification on predominantly low-income residents. Neighborhoods are generally operationalized as gentrifying if they experience above average gains in resident wealth, educational status, rent costs, and home sale values over time. Using indicators from the MTO study related to health, social, economic, and educational achievement, this paper will employ a difference-in-differences analysis to compare how outcomes potentially differ among the non- experimental group residents living in census tracts that are defined as gentrified and census tracts not defined as gentrified over the study period. Such policy-oriented research could help municipal governments act in the interests of existing, predominantly low-income residents through better understanding the potential “spillover” effects of promoting (or mitigating against) gentrification as an inequality reduction strategy.

Biological Plasticity and Childhood Academic Resilience following Early-life Adversity

Nim Tottenham (Psychology)
Frances Champagne (Psychology)

Our goal of the present work is to collect pilot data to support the success of an R01 grant application that develops a predictive and explanatory model of the heterogeneous impact of childhood adversity on academic outcomes and identify biological (epigenetic/brain) plasticity underlying resilience. Our premise is that adversity-exposed children have highly heterogeneous academic outcomes; we hypothesize that predictive analytics will identify environmental factors that provide biological resilience and optimal academic outcomes. We aim to collect pilot data employing comprehensive assessments of social environments, multimodal neuroimaging and standardized academic assessments in school- age children exposed to heterogeneous early adversities. This pilot data will be used to support the success of an NIMH R01 grant submission.

Comprehensive Early Childhood Parenting Supports and Children’s Health and Development

Christopher Wimer (Social Work)

Our larger research project is to launch a small-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an innovative program in New York City called Room to Grow (RtG). RtG’s mission is to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty throughout their critical first three years of development. The research-informed program model combines tailored, one-on-one sessions with an expert clinical social worker in-person every three months plus ongoing communication (phone and email), provision of essential baby items including books, toys, clothing, and equipment (retail value of in-kind items over three years averages $10,000), and connections to vital community resources (e.g., housing, entitlements, child care, social services). The goal of RtG’s innovative program is to help parents increase the probability that their children will enter school ready to learn and continue on to meet their full potential in education, work, and citizenship. The robust three-year long relationship with families is designed to act as the catalyst for sustainable, long- term change in parenting methods and family system stability. Critically, and in contrast to other programs aimed at improving parenting and child development, RtG believes that providing concrete material assistance enhances the effectiveness of counseling and referrals to low- income families by reducing economic stress and freeing up scarce resources. Seed funding from the CPRC will augment our research efforts as we launch this project by allowing us to collect qualitative data on the impact of RtG on 40 participating families. A mixed methods approach will inform and supplement our current efforts and best position us to secure additional research funds to follow up our cohort longitudinally.

Structural stigma and allostatic load among American sexual minorities

Mark Hatzenbuehler (Sociomedical Sciences)
Robert Juster (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Stigma is a pernicious social determinant of health for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals [1] . Stigma operates at individual (e.g., internalized homophobia), interpersonal (e.g., victimization), and structural (e.g., discriminatory policies) levels. Of great interest to our group is structural stigma, the societal-level conditions, cultural norms, and institutional policies that constrain the opportunities, resources, and wellbeing of the stigmatized. Our developing body of research has demonstrated that structural stigma affects LGB health ranging from anxiety to mortality [2-5] . To date, however, this research has largely focused on main effect relationships between structural stigma and health. As such, the mechanisms through which structural stigma relates to LGB health disparities are largely unknown. Stress is one mechanism that has been hypothesized to link structural stigma to LGB health, but evidence for a stress pathway comes almost exclusively from self- reported measures of stress processes. The current project aims to fill this knowledge gap by measuring stress biomarkers through applying the allostatic load model. Allostatic load (AL) represents the multi-systemic ‘wear and tear’ exacted by chronic stress and unhealthy behaviors [6] . AL is indexed with a battery of stress-related biomarkers that use sub-clinical thresholds to quantify physiological dysregulations that are then used to predict stress-related diseases [7] , many of which have been reported in the structural stigma literature. Our aim in the proposed pilot project is to evaluate whether structural stigma relates to AL for LGB populations. To achieve this, we will use pooled data from the continuous 2001-2014 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, a nationally representative survey of non-institutionalized U.S. adults. Structural stigma varies considerably from state to state in terms of laws such as employment non-discrimination protections, anti- bullying policies, and hate crime laws, among others. This study will make methodological contributions by linking macro-level effects that constrain LGB individuals’ health and wellbeing to objectively measured biometric outcomes. In addition, should we find support for an association between structural stigma and biological stress processes, this research will help strengthen the growing body of evidence regarding structural stigma as a social determinant of LGB health and health disparities.