Member Spotlight: Megan Threats

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Member Spotlight: Megan Threats

Precision Health member Megan Threats, PhD, MS recently joined UMSI as an Assistant Professor as part of the racial justice in healthcare: informatics and data-driven approaches cluster hiring initiative. She also recently joined the Department of Health Management and Policy at the School of Public Health as an Assistant Professor via courtesy appointment.

Dr. Threats is acclimating to life at U-M and building her research program which focuses on leveraging informatics to achieve health justice with and for racial/ethnic minoritized and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities.

  • What are your research interests, broadly?

In my work, I use anti-racist praxis and methods to document the existence and elucidate the magnitude of determinants of health and information inequities. The aims of my research program are to empower racial/ethnic minoritized and LGBTQ communities to engage in the design and implementation of informatics interventions and consumer health technologies that aim to combat racism and sexual orientation discrimination; as well as, translate her findings into the development of policies, programs, and practices that reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes among racial/ethnic minoritized and LGBTQ communities. My research interests include:

  • health informatics
  • structural and social determinants of health and information inequities
  • minority health
  • community-based participatory research
  • critical theory – intersectionality
  • health justice and policy
  • Tell us a bit more about the details of your current research/projects 

My most recent projects have focused on investigating the attitudes towards, acceptability of, and user-design preferences for the use of mHealth and telemedicine to support engagement in sexual and reproductive healthcare among LGBTQ women of color. It has also focused on their utilization of sexual and reproductive healthcare services, and their technology-driven utilization of sexual and reproductive health information; and how these are shaped and influenced by the multiple marginalizations they experience due to their race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender. I will be presenting some of the findings from that study at the upcoming Society of Behavioral Medicine Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I also serve as Co-PI on the FRESH Study, which investigates how both interpersonal and structural sexual orientation and racial discrimination influence sexual and reproductive health service use among Black LGBQ transgender and cisgender women, transgender men, and non-binary people in the United States. Preliminary findings from that study are forthcoming! 

  • How does your work apply to the field of precision health?

These projects are guided by intersectionality as a theoretical framework to better understand how multiple levels (i.e., structural and social) and types of stigma and discrimination (racism, sexual orientation discrimination) impact engagement in healthcare and information access among an understudied population.

  • What is innovative/new/exciting about these projects?

Intersectionality has not been applied much in the field of health informatics, and I hope to lead a shift among researchers conducting intersectional informatics studies who recognize the value of this framework and its potential for informing research design and analyses. Furthermore, the health of LGBTQ women and specifically women of color is understudied, and I am happy to contribute to this growing body of research

  • What do you like to do when you aren’t doing research?

I like to spend time with my mini goldendoodle Kai, listen to podcasts (shout out to The Read), and travel!

  • Recent publications include:

Media representation, perception and stigmatisation of race, sexuality and HIV among young black gay and bisexual men

Assessing Different Types of HIV Communication and Sociocultural Factors on Perceived HIV Stigma and Testing among a National Sample of Youth and Young Adults