UAMS COVID-19 study wins translational science publication award

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A Marshal resident of northwest Arkansas receives an injection of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Image by Preston Tolliver

The study, “COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: Race/Ethnicity, Trust and Fear”, became the most downloaded article in 2021 from the ASCPT journal Clinical and translational sciences. The study was conducted by researchers from the Office of Community Health and Research, led by Pearl A. McElfish, Ph.D., MBA. Don Willis, Ph.D., assistant professor, is the senior author of the article.

Don Willis, Ph.D.

Don Willis, Ph.D.

John Wagner, MD, Ph.D., the Clinical and translational sciences The journal’s editor, said the award recognizes the article that best reflects ASCPT’s goals of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

“This paper fits the bill best as a terrific example of both DEI and translational science,” Wagner said.

The award was announced by the ASCPT at its annual meeting in March.

The article is the result of a survey of Arkansans who joined the UAMS Translational Research Institute’s ARresearch Registry, which in March included more than 8,400 residents from all 75 counties.

“We used the ARresearch database exclusively, and the sample was really good and very diverse in terms of race and ethnicity,” Willis said.

The ARresearch registry generated a survey response rate of 31.6% (1,288 of 4,077 registrants contacted), a high percentage given the length of the survey, Willis said. The high number and diversity of respondents helped generate high quality results.

The study highlights section of the article states, “This study was the first to examine sociodemographic differences in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in a highly vulnerable rural state that ranks third in prevalence people at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy was highest among respondents with lower household income, some college, and little or no fear of being infected with COVID-19.

Willis said having access to the free registry made it possible to conduct the study much more quickly. It also avoided the high cost of purchasing valid emails or phone numbers for a random sample survey.

“The registry is an incredible resource because it includes people who are already motivated to participate in research,” he said. “It’s very different from random sample surveys where you email or call people who may not want to be bothered, and the response rate with those can be very low.”

By March, the in-depth investigation had resulted in five published articles and more were in production.

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