INDIANAPOLIS—The Purdue School of Science at IUPUI celebrates Veronica Derricks, Ph.D., an assistant professor in psychology. Derricks received the Indiana CTSI Young Investigator Award KL2 Scholar. It’s a highly competitive award, and her application was chosen out of 33 submissions for the state.
The award is designed to allow junior faculty to take their translational research, which is turning observation in the laboratory, clinic, and community into an intervention to improve the health of individuals and the public.
Derricks’ work started while she was a doctoral student at the University of Michigan. She is focused on how targeted health information is shared with Black Americans as a means of disease prevention but finds that this method of information sharing can backfire.
“My doctoral advisor had an interest in health disparities, and so after I started reviewing the literature in this area, I became really interested in testing some of my research ideas within a health context. I became really passionate about this particular question in terms of thinking about whether and why targeting health information to Black Americans might backfire,” explained Derricks.
Her research over this summer will look at how physicians are sharing targeted information about HIV to their Black American patients and the negative effect it can have.
“The issue comes in when we are targeting based on marginalized identities because that can activate someone's concerns that they will be devalued or negatively judged based on their identity,” said Derricks. “So, that's the context that we need to be mindful about. When targeting causes people to feel like they’re stereotyped or that assumptions are being made about them based on their identity, such as race.”
Check out the video for more information on why Derricks chose to focus on HIV information sharing in her research and what she wants to change about the “targeting” method.
Description of the video:So I started this research as a doctoral student at the University of Michigan in the Psychology department, and so I was listening to one of my doctoral advisors give a research presentation on some of her work, which was focused on a psychological phenomenon where people have a tendency to give information to others that they think they'll like. And this is an effort to engage in like relationship building with that person. And so, it really made me think about a situation where somebody was giving information to a Black American and how they might rely on racial biases or stereotypes and the potential backfiring effect of that. It was a really interesting kind-of experience to read about health disparities, and I became really passionate about the question in terms of thinking about the ways in which targeting health information to Black Americans might backfire. Black Americans make up about 13 of 14% of the US population, but they account for about 42% of new HIV diagnoses. Then, in contrast, white Americans make up about 60% of the US population and make up about 29% of new HIV diagnoses. So, we see this, really large gap of Black Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV, and interestingly, these numbers haven't been decreasing over time and so the question arises, why are these gaps so persistent? And despite our efforts, intervention efforts to try to reduce them. The issue comes in when we are targeting based on marginalized identities because that can activate somebody's belief that they're going to be devalued or negatively judged based on their identity, and so I think that's the context that we need to be mindful about, as when people feel targeted like they're being stereotyped, have assumptions being made about them based on that identity, such as race. So, I'm really wanting to change the way that the information is delivered to patients and so focusing in on the way that doctors are trying to communicate risk to Black patients and ensuring that they're doing that in a way that's not going to make their patients feel like they're being stereotyped or like they're being judged based on their racial identity. And so again, I think this is a context where linking these specific identities with information can be problematic, and it's not there for all identities, but specifically when these identities have been stigmatized in our society that can make it very consequential and produce these negative responses.
If you’re interested in learning more about her research or participating in this study, Derricks invites you to contact her via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.