Impact of COVID-19 on the Research Career Advancement of Health Equity Scholars from Diverse Backgrounds

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Mar 8;20(6):4750. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20064750.


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly taxed scientific research and seems to have exacerbated existing inequities within the research field, particularly for early-stage investigators (ESIs). This study examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on traditionally underrepresented ESIs enrolled in an NIH-supported study evaluating the effectiveness of developmental networks, grant writing coaching, and mentoring on research career advancement. The survey consisted of 24 closed-ended (quantitative) and 4 open-ended questions (qualitative) linked to a participant's ability to meet grant submission deadlines, research and professional development disruptions, stress level, career transition level, self-efficacy and management of scholarly tasks, and familial responsibilities. Results from 32 respondents (53%) suggest that COVID-19 adversely impacted the continuity of research (81%) and grant submissions (63%). On average, grant submissions were delayed by 6.69 months (i.e., greater than one grant cycle). We also conducted additional analyses characterizing nonresponse and found that there were no significant predictors of nonresponse, indicating a limited threat to the validity of our findings. The disruption caused by COVID-19 to the careers of ESIs from underrepresented groups in the biomedical workforce has been profound in the short term. The long-term consequences to the future success of these groups are unknown but is a worthwhile area of research and potential innovation.

Keywords: COVID-19; developmental networks; early-stage investigators; grant writing coaching; mentoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Health Equity*
  • Humans
  • Mentoring* / methods
  • Mentors
  • Pandemics