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Health equity

APA pushes National Institute on Drug Abuse to expand racial equity plan beyond diversity, equity, and inclusion office to diversify the scientific workforce

APA praised the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s racial equity plan and called for additional institute and center partnerships to fund research on social determinants of health and addiction.

Cite this
American Psychological Association. (2022, June 6). APA pushes National Institute on Drug Abuse to expand racial equity plan beyond diversity, equity, and inclusion office to diversify the scientific workforce. https://www.apaservices.org/advocacy/news/diversifying-science

On May 31, APA responded to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) request for information (RFI) on its new Racial Equity Initiative Action Plan. The plan covers policies on NIDA’s internal workplace, its programs to enhance the scientific workforce, and the extramural research it funds on discrimination and health disparities in addiction.

Regarding NIDA’s workplace, APA commented that the job of increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) must be sited in each level of the organization, not just in a DEI office. Organizational leadership is especially critical to realize gains in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Strong leadership helps maintain the pressure and urgency for change as some gains take longer to achieve than others. Just as some employees will find it hard to accept the organizational change that comes with making the workplace fairer and more equitable, some employees bear heavier burdens due to their intersectional status. Employees of color who also identify as female, LGBTQ+, or who live with disabilities may need additional support.

APA also encouraged NIDA to make additional use of minority supplement grants, especially given that those supplements can be used to support students at all levels, including high school students, on funded grants. A continuing challenge in diversifying the scientific workforce is attracting students of color and supporting them on the long road to becoming independent investigators. The association also suggested that NIDA consider supporting a minority fellowship program like the longstanding APA program funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that provides training to enhance the cultural competence of psychologists.

APA acknowledged that NIDA has been supporting research that will enhance outreach to and treatment of people of color. However, because of funding limitations, a lot of good research is left on the table. Increasing the priority of research on health equity will boost the resources available to support it. The association encouraged NIDA to continue collaborating and co-funding grants with the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, other offices within the Office of the Director, and other institutes and centers where possible.

For more information, contact Pat Kobor.