Growth of the Graduate Student Research Awards Program in SfHP


Ali A. Weinstein, Ph.D.
George Mason University

Allison Jane Carroll, Ph.D.
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Amanda A. Almond, PhD
CUNY’s New York City College of Technology

In 2019, the Health Research Council of the SfHP successfully petitioned the Division to expand the research grants offered to graduate students. Since that time, the diversity of the grant topic areas and applicants has expanded and grown. These awards provide monetary benefits and, perhaps more importantly, opportunities for professional development and feedback. All applications undergo at least two independent reviews from SfHP researchers and written feedback on the proposals is provided to all applicants.

Currently, six research awards are given each year to graduate students: four for Research in General Health Psychology, one for Health Disparities Research, and one for a Research Award to Promote Inclusion. The award for Health Disparities Research supports work focusing on health conditions that are more prevalent, serious, or specific to disadvantaged and medically underserved groups, or on healthcare inequities relevant to these groups – specifically, ethnic minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged individuals in rural and urban areas. The purpose of the Research Award to Promote Inclusion is to provide a graduate student from an underrepresented group with funding to allow successful completion of a health psychology relevant research project.

Since 2019 (four grant cycles), there have been 85 applications, with 50 independent institutions represented in these applications. In 2019, 36% of the applications investigated health disparities, while in the most recent year (2022) that number had grown to 56% of the applications. About one-quarter of applicants across the years are first generation college students, 35% were eligible for the research award to promote inclusion, and 10% of applicants self-identified as having a disability.

Along with this diversity of applicants, we have seen an impressive breadth of topic areas covered by the grant applications. The most common areas of grant applications over the past four years are stress (15% of applications), obesity/weight status (15%), pain (13%), and sleep (8%). When assessing the array of health conditions that have been included in the applications, 20% investigated chronic diseases (cancer and diabetes were the most common), while 8% investigated infectious diseases (COVID-19 was the most common). Almost 18% of applications involved an intervention of some kind. The study population most often included were adolescents, followed by child and maternal health groups.

The future of research in SfHP is quite bright and interesting based on the applications that are received for the Graduate Student Research Awards each year. These applications provide a glimpse into the research areas that will become the “hot topic” areas in the future. The Health Research Council looks forward to the next batch of applications and continuing to increase the diversity of applications and applicants.

Applications for these awards are due on January 15 each year. We will be hosting a webinar with previous award winners on November 17th, 2022, at 1pm ET; you can register here. More information about the application process can be found here.