Gilbert receives New Faculty Research Award

A portrait of Paul Gilbert, assistant professor of community and behavioral health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.Paul Gilbert, assistant professor of community and behavioral health, has been selected to receive a College of Public Health New Faculty Research Award of $10,000. The grant funding will be used for a project titled “Natural Recovery from Alcohol Use Disorders in Southeast Iowa.” The project will be funded for the 2017 calendar year.

The purpose of the New Faculty Research Award is to assist CPH primary faculty in collecting preliminary data or pilot studies leading to larger projects.

Project Description

The majority of people in the United States with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) do not receive treatment, and some social groups, such as women and racial/ethnic minorities, are less likely to receive help than their male and White counterparts, respectively. Nevertheless, as many as three-quarters of those with AUD will achieve remission without treatment. This paradoxical phenomenon of unassisted self-change, known as natural recovery, has been long recognized by alcohol scholars but remains poorly understood.

Research over the past three decades has identified a number of factors associated with natural recovery, such as individual psychosocial characteristics, interpersonal networks, individual health status and health events, and environmental circumstances. In turn, these findings have been applied in a wide variety of intervention trials to promote natural recovery, often with only modest success in reducing problematic drinking. Such limited effectiveness may be due to incomplete understanding of the processes at work.

Further, there has been scant attention to variability of this phenomenon. Only one study to-date has examined effect modification by gender, finding differences in the psychosocial and interpersonal factors associated with natural recovery between men and women. To the researcher’s knowledge, there has been no reported investigation of differences between racial/ethnic groups, despite criticism that many early studies of natural recovery relied on overly homogeneous, predominantly White samples.

In response, this study will use qualitative methods to elaborate the processes of natural recovery among White, Black, and Latino men and women in southeast Iowa.

The specific aims of the project are:

  • To identify and characterize the process of natural recovery among adults who have not received treatment for alcohol misuse.
  • To determine the most productive recruitment strategies to reach adults who have experienced natural recovery.

The study’s preliminary data will be used in support of a larger, subsequent study to examine natural recovery.

CPH researchers conducting health survey in West Liberty

A portrait of Paul Gilbert, assistant professor of community and behavioral health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
Paul Gilbert

Researchers from the University of Iowa, in collaboration with the West Liberty Coalition, are conducting a random house-to-house survey in West Liberty.

“Our hope is that the survey is a first step towards meaningful actions that will improve life in West Liberty,” says CPH Assistant Professor Paul Gilbert. The information will be used to plan future activities in the community.

Read more…  (West Liberty Index)

CPH researchers find HPV vaccine levels lag among certain populations

A team of researchers from the University of Iowa College of Public Health recently published a study showing lagging uptake of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in men and racial/ethnic disparities among women.

A portrait of Paul Gilbert, assistant professor of community and behavioral health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
Paul Gilbert

The study, published in the February edition of the American Journal of Public Health, shows that only 5% of young men reported ever receiving the HPV vaccine, with no differences in uptake by race/ethnicity or sexual orientation. However 30% of young women reported receiving at least one dose of HPV vaccine, with women of color having lower odds of initiating and completing the vaccine series compared with White women.

Paul Gilbert, assistant professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health and co-author of the study, thinks the main reason that uptake is substantially lower among males is that the vaccines were originally licensed only for use in girls and young women.

“Now the vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls, young women and young men,” Gilbert says. “The messaging has also changed. HPV vaccine is now presented as cancer-prevention rather than STI-prevention.”

HPV vaccines have proved to be effective in preventing infection and are expected to reduce incidence of cancers caused by the virus.  The vaccines do not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases, nor do they treat existing HPV infections or HPV-related disease.

Jason Daniel-Ulloa
Jason Daniel-Ulloa

Jason Daniel-Ulloa, assistant research scientist in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health and study co-author, says the reasons for the vaccination disparities among women are more difficult to pin down and may relate to socio-economic and cultural barriers to access.

“Of course the ultimate goal is to increase uptake of the vaccine among these populations,” he says. “This means working with communities to identify unique barriers to vaccination and addressing them by building partnerships between communities, public health departments, and clinics.”

According to the researchers, this may have been the first study to generate population estimates of HPV vaccination by gender, race/ethnicity, and sexual identity. The team used data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey, a cross-sectional survey of the noninstitutionalized US population with oversampling of racial/ethnic minorities. The analytic sample consisted of 3441 women and 3003 men aged 18 to 30 years, of whom 51% and 53% were non-Hispanic White, respectively.

Edith Parker, professor and head of community and behavioral health and director of the UI’s Prevention Research Center for Rural Health, is also co-author of the study.

You can read the full article here:


Gilbert to discuss discrimination and drinking

A portrait of Paul Gilbert, assistant professor of community and behavioral health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.Discrimination and Drinking:
A Systematic Review of the Evidence


When: Wednesday, November 18, from 11:30AM—12:30PM

Where: CPHB C217AB

Dr. Paul Gilbert, Assistant Professor in the CBH department, will be presenting findings from a systematic review that he and colleagues conducted on the association between discrimination and alcohol outcomes. This meeting will focus specifically on racial/ethnic and sexual orientation discrimination.

Sponsored by the Department of Community and Behavioral Health

The Health Equity Advancement Lab (HEAL)  seeks to improve health through community-engaged public health research with communities who experience health inequities. It is led by Drs. Barbara Baquero, Jason Daniel-Ulloa, and Briana Woods-Jaeger.

Paul Gilbert

Dr. Gilbert conducts research to understand and address alcohol-related disparities. He is particularly interested in the ways that gender, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation shape drinking patterns, risk of alcohol use disorders, and use of treatment services. His current projects include an NIH-funded study to test an explanatory model of alcohol treatment disparities, a New Faculty Research Award from the College of Public Health to identify and describe the strategies people use to overcome alcohol problems when they don’t utilize treatment services, and an evaluation of Iowa’s social host liability law that’s supported by the Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy.  An Issue Brief on underage drinking and social host prohibitions was released at a community summit in September 2018; a white paper on the topic is forthcoming (winter 2019).

A secondary line of research focuses on improving the health of Latino communities in non-traditional settlement states through participatory, action-oriented research. Working with the West Liberty Coalition, a community-academic partnership in Iowa’s first majority-Latino rural town, Dr. Gilbert led a community survey to identify strengths and health concerns. Here is the survey’s summary report in English and in Spanish.

Dr. Gilbert is a core faculty member of the Health Equity Advancement Lab (HEAL), which is housed in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health. HEAL brings together students, staff, and faculty who are interested in social justice to engage in research and extra-curricular learning opportunities.

Among other activities, Dr. Gilbert partnered with colleagues at the Iowa Cancer Consortium, One Iowa, and Des Moines University to conduct a comprehensive survey of LGBTQ Iowans’ health status and needs. The objective was to gather data for program planning and to establish a baseline to compare changes over time. A summary report is now available and additional papers are in preparation.

Dr. Gilbert also chairs the College of Public Health Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which is charged with carrying out the college’s strategic objectives for increasing diversity and creating an inclusive environment.