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Learn More about UMD-PRC Research!

The University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) is a multidisciplinary community of scholars who develop and disseminate evidence-based solutions that prevent and address adverse health outcomes for sexual and gender minority (SGM) people. Prevention science is an interdisciplinary field focused on developing evidence-based strategies that reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. The UMD-PRC has four main content areas of prevention research that uniquely impact SGM communities: mental health, substance use, sexual and reproductive health, and violence prevention.  

Currently, the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention currently provides funding to 26 Prevention Research Centers (PRCs) across the United States to conduct innovative, community-level public health research to prevent chronic disease, especially among populations experiencing health disparities. PRCs work with their local community to develop, test, and evaluate solutions to pressing public health problems.  

Check out our Ongoing Research!

The University of Maryland Prevention Research Center and its faculty lead various research and public health practice projects related to chronic disease prevention and health promotion. 

Each PRC is funded for 5 years to maintain a research center and conduct prevention research that promotes health and prevents chronic illness and other diseases and disabilities. The solutions developed by PRCs are intended to be applied widely. In addition to creating healthier communities, PRCs have increased the public health workforce and conducted research to guide future initiatives.  

PI: Boekeloo

Duration: 2019-2024

Funding: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (U48DP006382)

Our core research project examines the efficacy of our SGDLC training program, an intervention for mental health providers and organizations to develop their LGBTQ+ competence and improve outcomes for LGBTQ+ clients. Validated with a randomized controlled trial, our research highlights how interventions with organizational administrators and therapists with workshops and clinical consultations can improve LGBTQ+ client outcomes and be used to address health disparities facing those impacted by anti-LGBTQ+ structural oppression.

SGDLC Program Diagram

These data are publicly available upon request. If interested, please contact Dr. Bradley Boekeloo at


Recent Publications: 

Boekeloo, B. O., Fish, J. N., Turpin, R. E., Aparicio, E. A., Shin, R., Vigorito, M. A., Lare, S. M., McGraw, J. S., & King-Marshall, E. (in press). LGBTQ+ cultural-competence training effectiveness: Mental health organization and therapist survey outcome results from a pilot randomized controlled trial. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy.

Fish, J. N., King-Marshall, E. C., Turpin, R. E., Aparicio, E. M., & Boekeloo, B. O. (in press). Assessing the implementation of an LGBTQ+ mental health services raining program to determine feasibility and acceptability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prevention Science. Advanced online publication.

Fish, J. N., King-Marshall, E. C., +Williams, N. D., Aparicio, E. M., Tralka, H. M., & Boekeloo, B. O. (2022). What motivates community mental and behavioral health organizations to participate in LGBTQ+ cultural competency trainings? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 92(6), 647-656.


Learn More About the SGDLC Program

PI: Boekeloo

Duration: 2019-2022

Funding: University of Maryland Office of Research 

A national survey assessing mental health care needs and experiences in care for LGBTQ+ individuals. The survey oversampled individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ to ensure adequate representation and power to assess differences across groups defined by sexual orientation and gender identity. The survey will explore questions related to discrimination, experiences in mental health care and sexual/gender identity. 

Recent Publications:

Williams, N. D., Turpin, R. E., Boekeloo, B. O., King-Marshall, E. C., & Fish, J. N. (2023). Black Sexual Minority Adults’ Avoidance of Professional Mental Health Care. Psychiatric Services. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1176/

PI: Fish

Duration: 2021-2026

Funding: Maryland Department of Health 

The Implementing Tobacco Control Strategies to Achieve Health Equity: Engaging LGBTQ Communities in Maryland project aims to reduce tobacco-related health disparities in LGBTQ+ communities in Prince George’s and Montgomery County by developing comprehensive strategies in collaboration with groups that are inclusive of and reach LGBTQ+ communities. The UMD team will work in partnership with local community organizations, health departments, and state tobacco and control officials to develop, disseminate, and evaluate LGBTQ-inclusive tobacco prevention and control efforts in PG and Montgomery County. 

Recent Publications: 

University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (2023). 2022 UMD-PRC Community Health Needs Assessment Report: Investigating Tobacco Use and Cessation Experiences of LGBTQ Youth and Young Adults in Prince George’s and Montgomery County, Maryland.

PI: Baur & Fish

Duration: 2021-2022

Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This project implemented behavioral nudges and aimed to reduce barriers to increasing the COVID-19 vaccine uptake for LGBTQ+ people nationally and residents of Maryland. The UMD-PRC partnered with CenterLink, a national organization supporting over 300 LGBTQ community organizations and service providers, and local health improvement coalitions in 5 regions of Maryland. The goals of this project were to: (1) Increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and remove access barriers to getting vaccinated for all Marylanders; (2) Provide CenterLink member centers and LHICs with nudges, technical assistance, and relevant COVID vaccine information; and (3) Increase vaccine confidence nationwide by facilitating information sharing and collaboration between CenterLink centers and between LHICs. The project developed a compendium of toolkits, resources, and guidance for clear communication on the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can access our archive of communications, toolkits, and resources here.

PI: Boekeloo

Duration: 2017-2021

Funding: Maryland Department of Health

In collaboration with the Maryland Department of Health, the UMD-PRC will conduct a multiphase evaluation of the Sexual Health in Recovery (SHIR) program, a treatment program among numerous drug addiction facilities throughout the state of Maryland. The SHIR curriculum aims to increase the diagnosis and treatment of HIV, increase retention in substance abuse treatment and reduce co-existing risky sexual behaviors and drug relapse.

PI: Fish

Duration: 2020-2025

Funding: Lesbian Health Fund; UMD Catalyst Fund

This project explores the potential protective effects of positive parental messaging regarding LGBTQ+ identities and whether these practices buffer the negative effects of LGBTQ-related discrimination on mental health and substance use. Findings will be used to develop measures and interventions that seek to support LGBTQ+ youth and their families. 

Recent Publications: 

Fish, J. N. & Ezra, P. (in press). Parental support is not enough: How parental socialization theories can advance LGBTQ+ youth family research, practice, and health. Journal of Family Theory and Review.

PI: Aparicio & Nguyen

Duration: 2021-2026

Funding: National Institutes of Health (R01MD016037)

Rosie is a chatbot that will enable easier navigation of health information to support expectant and new mothers of color the moment they need it. Rosie will be able to engage in live question-and-answer sessions to respond to frequent questions that moms have. Information provided will come from verified sources such as children’s hospitals, health organizations and government agencies to ensure accuracy. It will also be presented in a conversational style without the need to navigate through dozens of web pages in search of a specific credible answer. Rosie's development and use will be a tool of help to improve moms' and children's quality of life and health care outcomes.

PI: Aparicio 

Duration: 2021-present

Funding: Annie E. Casey

The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on transition age foster youth. This study seeks to examine how young parents in and aging out of the foster care system are navigating this difficult time, in order to inform practice and policy with this specialized group. This study involves participatory action methods, including PhotoVoice groups and focus groups, to uplift the experiences of parenting foster youth. 

Recent Publications: 

Aparicio, E.M., Shpiegel, S., MartImage removed.nez-GarcImage removed.a, G., Ventola, M., Jasczyński, M., Channell Doig, A., VanWert, S., Sanchez, A., & Smith, R. (2022). COVID-19 vaccination perspectives among young parents with foster care backgrounds. Child and Adolescent Social Work.

Shpiegel, S., Aparicio, E.M., Ventola, M., Channell Doig, A., Jasczynski, M.,  MartImage removed.nez-GarcImage removed.a, G., Smith, R., Sanchez, A., & Robinson, J.L. (2022). Experiences of young parents with foster care backgrounds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Child Abuse and Neglect.

PI: Bishop

Duration: 2022-2025

Funding: National Institute of Health, National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (F32AA030194)

This multi-method project examines developmental differences in the prevalence and mechanisms of alcohol use among adolescents with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Through strategic dissemination efforts, the results of this project will address pressing public health concerns regarding sexual and gender minority youth alcohol use.

PI: Aparicio

Duration: 2017-present

Funding: UMD Department of Behavioral and Community Health, UMD Prevention Research Center, UMD Graduate School

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 and are at elevated risk for STI exposure. 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. Our current phase of the project involves examining the specific sexual health and mental health needs of LGBTQ foster youth.


Aparicio, E.M., Kachingwe, O.N., Salerno, J.P., Geddings-Hayes, M., & Boekeloo, B.O. (2021). Addressing sexual health among youth in foster care group homes: A community-engaged grounded theory study.  Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 18, 1136-1147.

Kachingwe, O. N., Salerno, J. P., Boekeloo, B., Fish, J.N., Geddings-Hayes, M., Aden, F., & Aparicio, E. M. (2020). "The internet is not private": The role of social media in sexual health among youth in foster care. Journal of Adolescence, 82, 50-57.

Salerno, J., Kachingwe, O. N., Fish, J.N., Parekh, E., Geddings-Hayes, M., Boekeloo, B. O., & Aparicio, E. M. (2020). "Even if you think you can trust them, don't trust them": The lived experience of sexual health among sexual minority girls in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 116, 105161.

PI: Doan (Fish as co-I)

Duration: 2020-present


The Assessing the Social Consequences of COVID-19 (ASCC) study examines the impacts of COVID-19 and social distancing efforts on behavior, time spent with others, use of technology, and mental and physical well-being, with a particular interest in how these effects vary by gender, sexuality, family structure, race/ethnicity, and immigrant status.


Fish, J. N., Salerno, J., Williams, N. D., Rinderknecht, G., Drotning, K. J., Sayer, L., & Long, D. (2021). Sexual minority disparities in health and wellbeing as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic differ by sexual identity. LGBT Health,8(4), 263-272. PMCID: PMC8213002. 

Salerno, J. P., Doan, L., Sayer, L., Drotning, K., Rinderknecht, G., & Fish, J. N. (2023). Changes in mental health and well-being are associated with living arrangements with parents during COVID-19 among sexual minority young persons in the US. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 10(1), 150-156.

Drotning, K., Doan, L., Sayer, L. C., Fish, J. N., & Rinderknecht, G. (2023). Not all homes are safe: Family violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Family Violence, 38, 189–201. 

Amerikaner, L., Yan, X., Sayer, L. C., Doan, L., Fish, J. N., Drotning, K. J., & Rinderknecht, R. G. (2023). Blurred borders or safe harbor? Emotional well-being among sexual minorities working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Science & Medicine. 

PI: Fish

National Institute of Drug Abuse (R03DA046827)

This study examines how sexual and gender minority youth experiences of distal and proximal minority stressors are associated with substance use (i.e., alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and polysubstance use) and the potential protective influence of family and teacher support. 

Mereish, E. H., Parra, L. A., Watson, R. J., & Fish, J. N. (2022). Subtle minority stress and depressive symptoms among sexual and gender minority adolescents of color: Mediating role of self-esteem and sense of mastery. Prevention Science, 23, 142-153. 

Poteat, V. P., Fish, J. N., & Watson, R. J. (2021). Gender-sexuality alliances as a moderator for the association between victimization, depressive symptoms, and drinking behavior among LGBTQ+ youth. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 229(B), 109-140. PMCID: PMC8665138 

Poteat, V. P., Watson, R. J., & Fish, J. N. (2021). Teacher support moderates associations among sexual identity outness, victimization, and academic performance among LGBQ+ youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 50, 1634-1648. PMCID: PMC8350887 

Watson, R. J., Fish, J. N., Poteat, V. P., Wheldon, C. W., Cunningham, C. A., Puhl, R., & Eaton, L. A. (2021). Teacher support, victimization, and alcohol use among sexual and gender minority youth: considering ethnoracial identity. Prevention Science, 22, 590-601. PMCID: PMC8195836 

Watson, R. J., Fish, J. N., Denary, W., Caba, A., Cunningham, C., & Eaton, L. A. (2021). LGBTQ state policies: A lever for reducing SGM youth substance use and bullying. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 221,108659. PMCID: PMC8026721 

Watson, R. J., Fish, J. N., McKay, T., Allen, S., Eaton, L., & Puhl, R. M. (2020). Substance use among a national sample of LGBTQ adolescents: Intersections of sex assigned at birth and gender identity. LGBT Health, 7(1), 37-46. PMCID: PMC6983732. 

Watson, R. J., Fish, J. N., Poteat, V. P., & Rathus, T. (2019). Sexual and gender minority youth alcohol use: Within-group differences in associations with internalized stigma and victimization. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48(12), 2403–2417. PMCID: PMC6872943. 

Wheldon, C. W., Watson, R. J., Fish, J. N., & Garamel, K. (2019). Cigarette smoking among youth at the intersection of sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBT Health, 6(5), 235-241. PMCID: PMC6909748.

PI: Fish

Duration: 2021-present

Funding: University of Maryland Population Research Center; UMD Graduate School

This project seeks to identify how LGBTQ-focused state policies are associated with youth health (e.g., substance use, mental health) and related experiences (e.g., victimization). As part of this work, we also explore different approaches to measuring policy and social climate in the association with LGBTQ+ youth health. 

PRC launch event of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland

Trainings and webinars

The UMD-PRC is committed to putting knowledge to action through developing and disseminating training and tools that increase public health workforce training and capacity, particularly for LGBTQ+ communities. 

UMD PRC Organizational LGBTQ Climate Assessment

Tools & Guides

Check out our various tools and guides to support LGBTQ+ affirmative mental and public health practice.