The Prevention Research Center (PRC) at the University of Maryland School of Public Health is committed to service, teaching, and research around issues of mental health among LGBTQ+ communities. Its mission is to eliminate existing social injustices and associated health disparities experienced by LGBTQ+ persons. The Center is committed to bringing awareness to these inequities, as well as disseminating data, validated tools, and best practices to improve access to quality mental health care for these communities.
In collaboration with LGBTQ+ partner organizations, the PRC will promote evidence-based training of students and mental health care providers in culturally sensitive and inclusive practices. By serving as a central hub of resources and expertise in LGBTQ+ mental health care, the Center intends to facilitate connections between members of LGBTQ+ communities, providers, clinicians, and investigators.
The UMD-PRC aims to:
- Address gaps in understanding of LGBTQ+ mental health and health care, and related topics such as HIV, substance use, and healthy relationship dynamics.
- Develop and evaluate tools to examine and address LGBTQ+ mental health and related healthcare needs.
- Disseminate and support implementation of tools to address LGBTQ+ mental health and related health care needs.
The University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) was initially founded with a CDC cooperative agreement from 2009-2014. Its focus was on improving coordination of efforts to address the HIV epidemic across the region.
With new funds from a CDC cooperative agreement (beginning in Fall 2019), a re-energized UMD Prevention Research Center is focusing on the mission of improving mental health and health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (or questioning) (LGBTQ+) persons.
From 2009-2014, the UMD-PRC was involved in state HIV prevention planning, inter-jurisdiction and inter-organization prevention programs, and research that was disseminated through training programs and publications. Since 2014, the UMD PRC has continued addressing HIV prevention and has become more focused on related LGBTQ+ mental health and health care challenges.
Our major partners in addressing these challenges are government health departments and community organizations. HIV, substance use, and related concerns continue to be topics of importance for the UMD-PRC given their relationship with LGBTQ+ mental health disparities.
Who we are
A team of experts and community-engaged researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, along with researchers from many other schools and programs across the University of Maryland College Park campus, is driving the UMD-PRC effort.
The researchers work closely with a broad array of community advisors from many different stakeholder groups to plan and implement all research, training and service activities. A growing coalition of mental health and health care organizations, in connection with other Prevention Research Centers from across the country, will provide advice and conduct outreach to support the UMD PRC’s ability to make a positive impact on LGBTQ+ communities at the local, state and national levels.
The health challenges facing LGBTQ+ communities
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experience vexing mental, behavioral, and physical health disparities relative to their heterosexual and cisgender (i.e., non-transgender) peers. Lesbian, gay and bi individuals, for example, are 1.5 to 3.5 times as likely as heterosexuals to meet the criteria for a past-year mood, anxiety, or alcohol use disorder and are three times as likely to experience psychiatric comorbidity.1-3
More than half (55%) of transgender people consider suicide and nearly one third (29%) have attempted it, according to a recent analysis of several studies.4 Chronic stress related to stigma, marginalization and discrimination is a major contributing factor to LGBT-related health disparities.5-7
The Healthy People 2020 objectives, outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, include a call for national action to reduce the health disparities that LGBT populations experience. These disparities include inadequate health care, and increased risk for suicide, homelessness, cancer, bully victimization, STIs/HIV, obesity, mental health concerns, and the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
Reducing LGBTQ+ health disparities through “culturally competent” mental health care
One key strategy to address the disparities LGBT people face is through improved mental health services and better integration of mental health and other health care services.
Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ persons have reported concerns and dissatisfaction with their mental health care experiences due to lack of clinician understanding, acceptance, and sensitivity.8-11 LGBTQ+ racial/ethnic minorities may have the highest unmet need for mental health care.12
Mental health care clinicians themselves have also described limited opportunity, resources, and support for training regarding LGBTQ+-specific concerns.13 Furthermore, the need for continuing education for mental health professionals related to LGBT persons’ is increasing in urgency due to quickly evolving societal attitudes, government policies, empirical research, and changes in community and scientific language used to refer to LGBT persons.14
Our Prevention Research Center aims to provide the evidence needed to inform the training of students and mental health care providers in culturally sensitive and inclusive practices. By serving as a central hub of resources and expertise in LGBTQ+ mental health care, the UMD PRC intends to facilitate connections between members of LGBTQ+ communities, providers, clinicians, and investigators and ultimately improve the quality and availability of mental health care for these communities.
Our LGBTQ+ research supporters and partners include:
- University Health Center
- LGBT Equity Center at UMD
- University of Maryland Office of Diversity & Inclusion
- Center for Healthy Families
- Maryland Center for Health Equity
- Human Rights Campaign
- The Forum for Dignity Initiatives - FDI Pakistan.
- Dostana Male Health Society- DMHS Pakistan
Endowed Professor and Director, Horowitz Center for Health Literacy
Associate Professor, Health Services Administration
Professor and Chair, Behavioral and Community Health
Assistant Professor, Family Science
Robert S. Gold
Professor, Behavioral and Community Health
Associate Professor, Psychology
Research Professor, Behavioral and Community Health
Associate Professor, Family Science
Affiliated Faculty & Investigators
Fostering Healthy Relationships (Co-P.I.'s Elizabeth Aparicio and Bradley Boekeloo)
Youth in foster care are 2-3 times as likely to become pregnant as a teen compared to their peers who are not in care. During this community-based participatory research project, we are partnering with youth, community, and university experts to conduct a needs assessment and create an innovative multi-level sexual health intervention for youth in foster care. This study is funded by the UMD Department of Behavioral and Community Health.
Pakistan Transgender and MSM Health Project (P.I. Bradley Boekeloo)
Transgender and MSM (men who have sex with men) population in Pakistan suffer from high rates of HIV relative to other Pakistanis. These populations are particularly vulnerable to HIV because of health care inequalities related to social determinants of healthcare access and stigma. The aim of this project is to conduct a needs assessment and gain a better understanding of healthcare for sexual and gender minorities in Pakistan. The major goal of this project is to identify barrier, gaps, and opportunities from key stakeholders to improve the healthcare services for MSM and transgender population in Pakistan.
Health Behavior Risks of Electronic Communication (P.I. Bradley Boekeloo)
To conduct qualitative and quantitative study of undergraduate college students about the role or electronic communications in sexual and substance use risk.
UMES Prevention Works (UMD P.I. Bradley Boekeloo)
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) is a Historically Black Institution/University and an 1890 Land Grant Institution within the University of Maryland System. UMES Prevention Works Initiative addresses alcohol, substance abuse, sexually transmitted infections including HIV and Hepatitis C Virus (STI/HIV/HCV), and pregnancy sexual risk as well as overeating at UMES. This study is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to James White Ed.D. at UMES.
Climbing Up and Reaching Back (CURB) (P.I. Bradley Boekeloo)
The program demonstrates and evaluates a 4-year metnoring program starting in the 10th grade to help more students pursue a college education in health research. The research team consists of education andresearch professionals from the Prevention Reseearch Center and the Maryland Institute for Minority Achievement and Urban Education (MIMAUE) at the University of Marlyand College Park; and the Patriots Technology Training Center(PTC) in Seat Pleasant, Maryland.
Maryland HIV Prevention Plan 2017-2021 (P.I. Bradley Boekeloo)
The Prevention Research Center provides technical and research support to the Department of Health and Mental Hygeine regarding HIV program planning.
HIV Prevention Among African American/Black Women in a High HIV Prevalence Area (P.I. Bradley Boekeloo)
The Prevention Research Center in collaboration with Strategic Community Services, Inc. evaluates HIV and substance use prevention programs among African American/Black women aling the Prince George's County/Washington DC jurisdictional border.
National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (P.I. Min Qi Wang)
The major goal of this project is to identify Maryland-specific data on environmental hazards, exposures to environmental hazards, health outcomes thought to be related to environmental factors. The tasks involve collecting data and integrating data on environmental hazards, exposure to these hazards, and human health outcomes in a Web-based system employing a customized Geographic Information Systems (GIS) interface.
A Multi-Method Multi-Design Study of Galli Galli Sim Sim (GGSS) (Co- P.I. Donna Howard)
This is a 5-year study examining the impact of Galli Galli Sim Sim (the Hindu name of the program/the Indian version of Sesame Street) on preschool children’s literacy, numeracy, socioemotional development, health, nutrition and safety. Three different studies are being conducted to examine the impact of GGSS and inform its content. These studies include 2 waves of qualitative data collection from parents, educators and children, a preschool-based RCT, and a 24 month longitudinal study.
The Girls Healthy Dating Relationship Study (P.I. Donna Howard)
The overall goal of this study is to better understand how conceptualizations of healthy and harmful dating relationships are informed by religious socialization and whether such socialization may be related to risk of dating violence victimization. This study makes use of the Socialization Influence Framework (SIF), which identifies multiple domains of socialization influence and socialization mechanisms that shape adolescent health-related attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. In-depth interviews and focus groups were conducted with adolescent girls aged 15-18 who were enrolled in public, private, religious and secular high schools in greater Baltimore, Maryland. This NIH funded mixed methods study is in the data analysis/manuscript production phase.
The Boys Healthy Dating Relationship Study (P.I. Donna Howard)
The study pilot tested the feasibility of recruiting and gathering non anonymous, sensitive information on healthy and harmful dating relationship beliefs and behaviors among underage males. The overall goal of this study is to understand adolescent minority males’ conceptualizations of healthy and harmful dating relationships and how these are informed by socialization. In-depth interviews and focus groups were conducted with adolescent males aged 13-18 who were recruited from community centers and youth-serving organizations within Prince George’s County, Maryland along the DC border within the “National Capital Beltway”. This University of Maryland Prevention Research Center/CDC funded study is in the data analysis/manuscript production phase.
Teens, Technology and Dating Violence Study (P.I. Donna Howard)
The overall aim of this study is to explore how electronic communication technologies (e.g. social networking sites and text messaging), are used in adolescent dating relationships, including: a) motivations for use; b) context of use, e.g. relationship formation, maintenance, conflict resolution, and, break-ups; c) perceptions of healthy and unhealthy dating communications that occur electronically. In-depth interviews and focus groups were conducted with adolescent males and females aged 15-18 recruited from community centers and youth-serving organizations within Prince George’s County and the greater Baltimore, Maryland area. This University of Maryland Population Research Center funded study is in the data analysis/manuscript production phase.
Maternal Intimate Partner Violence Victimization and Immune activation in Women and Children in Tanzania (P.I. Mona Mittal)
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a critical public health issue that impacts families worldwide. Research has linked IPV with multiple diseases and with a variety of adverse psychological and physical health consequences in children. Although there is a substantial body of literature on the economic and health impacts of IPV, the physiological pathways underlying the association between IPV and elevated chronic disease risk among women and children are still unclear. IPV has been associated with elevated inflammation in women and children, and inflammation is an established risk marker for a number of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and depression. It is plausible that immune markers might serve as a shared mechanism between IPV and poor health outcomes among abused women and their children. This study examines the relationship between IPV and exposure to inter-parental violence and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, a marker of systemic inflammation, for women and children respectively.
HIV Risk Reduction for Women Reporting Intimate Partner Violence (P.I. Mona Mittal)
The two foremost health problems impacting young adult women are HIV infection and intimate partner violence (IPV). Currently, there are very few empirically tested interventions that simultaneously address women’s risk for HIV and their experiences of IPV. The purpose of this research is to develop and test the feasibility and efficacy of an integrated HIV-IPV prevention intervention for community-based abused women. A randomized clinical trial comparing 30 participants receiving the IMB-TGP intervention to 30 participants receiving group counseling at a domestic violence agency will be conducted. This research could have a significant public health impact by improving health outcomes for women who experience IPV.
Comorbid Patterns with Alcohol Use Disorders (P.I. Kerry Green)
This study funded by NIAAA aims to assess patterns of alcohol involvement with comorbid non-alcohol substance use symptoms and disorders, specifically assessing transition patterns for these comorbid conditions, and for subgroups of the population. Analyses assess secular trends in alcohol comorbidity over the past 20 year period using data from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (NLAES) (1991-2), the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) wave 1 (2001-2), and the NESARC III (2012-3).
Impact of Life Events on Patterns of Drug Use in an Urban African American Cohort (P.I. Kerry Green)
This NIDA-funded study uses data from the Woodlawn Study, a longitudinal community cohort study, to examine the role of informal social control stemming from individual life events as potential turning points in substance use. This project will extend existing research by considering a wide array of life events and drawing on the stress literature, in particular, to examine the possible variability in the impact of life events on desistance and persistence, such as the quantity, combinations, timing and ordering of life events, as well as individual characteristics and personal circumstances that may interact with life events to alter substance use trajectories.
Multilevel Moderators of Drugs, Violence, Poverty and HIV Among Black Youth and Young Adults Living in Baltimore (P.I. Kerry Green)
This NIDA-funded study examines the influence of neighborhood and protective factors on trajectories of drugs, violence, and sexual risk behaviors across adolescence and young adulthood in a cohort of black youth followed from age 6 to 25. It focuses on factors that moderate risky behaviors and risky environments, as well as long-term outcomes.
Syndemics, STI and HIV Among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men and Women (MSMW) (P.I. Typhanye Dyer)
This NIDA-funded study explores syndemics and HIV incidence and prevalence among Black gay and bisexual men in the HIV Prevention Trials Network Brothers Study. Preliminary findings suggest a high burden of psychosocial vulnerability among Black gay and bisexual men, including experience with racism and incarceration.
Intersectional Stigma, Engagement in Care and Antiretroviral Medication Adherence (P.I. Typhanye Dyer)
This Advance Seed grant study explores compound stigma, engagement in care and antiretroviral adherence among older Black women living with HIV in PG County, MD. These women reported VERY high levels of stigma, reporting other age-related co-morbid chronic illness, which piqued or interest in re-submitting the R21 focusing on those outcomes, as well.
Social Network and Sexual Risk for HIV/STI's Among Older Female Sex Worker's (P.I. Hongjie Liu)
The objective of this study is to quantify the collective roles of social network components (relations, structure, and functions) and environmental factors (physical, social, and political factors) on HIV/STI risk behavior in older female workers. The central hypothesis is that network-based interpersonal factors mediate the effects of environmental factors on HIV/STI risk behavior in female sex workers aged 35 years or older. This research project targets an important and under-investigated area of social epidemiology that has potential applicability to understanding the collective roles of social network components and environmental factors on HIV/STI risk behavior among older female sex workers. FIndings will provide much needed empirical data and theoretical guidance for the development of an effective intervention program to reduce sexual risk for HIV/STI's among older female sex workers.
Sexually Transmitted Infections Community Coalition (STICC)
The Sexually Transmitted Infections Community Coalition (STICC) is partnership of over 60 public and private stakeholders in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area who have a common interest in reducing the impact of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. STICC operates to establish and maintain partnerships that leverage resources to prevent and control sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. STICC meets on the second Thursday of every month. All are welcomed.
Strategic Community Services, Inc.
Strategic Community Services, Inc. led by Sylvia Quinton, Esq., has partenred with the UMD-PRC to evaluate substance use and HIV prevention projects among African American/Black women. Additionally, it haspartnered to develop and evaluate substance use and HIV among Historically Black Colleges and Univerisities (HBCU) college students.
Prince George’s Health Action Coalition (PGHAC)
Prince George's Healthcare Action Coalition (PGHAC) serves as a community health network and forum for collaboration to advance the state of health care in Prince George's County. This community-powered coalition represents over 70 community organizations, health care providers and stakeholders in community health.
The Coalition was formed in 2012 under the leadership of Prince George's County Health Department (PGCHD), with Health Officer Pamela Creekmur serving as Chairwoman, in order to move the county towards reaching its health goals as outlined in Prince George's Health Improvement Plan.
Six Priority Areas
PGHAC consists of six work groups composed to address the six priority areas for health improvement in Prince George's County:
- Access to Care Work Group
- Chronic Disease Work Group
- Domestic Violence Work Group
- HIV/STI's Work Group
- Infant Mortality Work Group
- Pedestrian Safety Work Group
The DC Department of Health with the Maryland and Virginia Departments of Health established the IMPACT DMV Coalition. The Coalition is made up of service providers, community members, private entities, and health department staff from each of the three regions to provide a holistic health and wellness system that strengthens and supports men who have sex with men and transgender persons of color in healthy decision making. The project ensures equitable access to screening, care and treatment, behavioral health, economic opportunity, peer support, and other supportive services. The Coalition has identified three initial priority program areas: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) expansion, community health and wellness, and behavioral health. HAHSTA seeks to support implementation projects. Such projects are more fully conceived or have already started. They are appropriate for organizations (or multi-sectorial collaborations of several organizations) that are ready to implement a defined plan of action, with goals and outcomes
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygeine (MDHMH)
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygeine (MDHMH) Infectious Disease Prevention and Health Services Bureau has parterned with the UMD-PRC on several projects including an assessment of the HIV services infrastructure in Prince George's County, the Maryland HIV Plan 2012-2016 and 2017-2021, and other HIV-related projects.
CHEAR: Community Health Education and Research
CHEAR is affiliated with the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC). This student organization provides resources and opportunities, develops health education programs, and conducts research in conjunction with local, national, and international orgnaizations.
Mission Statement: To develop and deliver health education programs and conduct research with community partners.
- Advance academic-community partnerships.
- Address community needs through education, services, and research partnerships.
- Address health disparities.
Foster Youth project:
The University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) and its Community Health Education and Research (CHEAR) student organization is embarking on a sexual health project for foster care youth and parents. Sexual and reproductive health may be sensitive topics for parent-youth discussion but they are extremely important topics for the mental and physical well-being of youth, and youth's healthy transitioning to adulthood. The foster care system may not adequately assist foster parents to address the sexual health needs of foster youth, and foster youth may age out of the foster care system before their sexual development needs are fully met. Foster youth's transition to adulthood may thus be more sexually risky than that of youth with ongoing family support. The goal of this project is to improve foster parents' and youth's knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to sexual and reproductive health, and assist youth in establishing relationships that will continue to support their healthy sexual development as they age out of the foster care system. Early stages of this project include development of a CHEAR student group and a foster care advisory group, consisting of foster organization staff and the foster parents and youth they serve. The two groups will work together and assist the UMD-PRC faculty and staff in developing and implementing the educational program and related research.
For more information and to become a part of CHEAR visit: https://orgsync.com/162656/chapter
HLTH 424/624: Advanced Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health
This course, offered in the spring semester will prepare students to be knowledgable advocates for the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations. Course focus is defined by the Healthy People 2020 federal health objectives for LGBT populations: data collection for research, culturally competent health care, bullying in schools, suicide, homelessness, and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.
Independent study opportunities are available for students. Students may be asked to complete a variety of tasks related to the mission of the PRC.
If interested, please contact:
University of Maryland Prevention Research Center
School of Public Health
Department of Behavioral and Community Health
4200 Valley Drive
College Park, MD 20742