Public health follows the science – and this year’s APHA Annual Meeting-goers (both in Denver and online) have access to the most current research through a wealth of poster sessions, available for on-demand viewing right now. Many poster sessions feature live presentations, but if you don’t catch the live show, don’t sweat it! Throughout the meeting, you can check out the thousands of recorded poster presentations and submit questions to the presenters online.

APHA 2021 poster sessions cover a huge swath of public health topics and priorities — here are just a few that caught our eye.

Researchers corroborate uptick in discrimination

The increase in incidents of hate and unfair treatment toward Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders has been in plain view, and researchers have now validated the incidents with data, according to an APHA 2021 poster presentation.

Using the 2020 California Health Interview Survey, researchers from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center were able to corroborate reports of rising unfair treatment and hate incidents against the population groups.

In August 2020, Asian Americans had the highest reports of unfair treatment compared to other racial or ethnic groups. More than one in four witnessed unfair treatment toward another Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

Researchers also found experiences differed among people of different ethnic backgrounds. Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese Americans reported experiencing more verbal abuse and attacks, while Korean Americans reported the most experiences with direct hate incidents. Earlier this year, study author Ninez Ponce also spoke to The Nation’s Health newspaper about the importance of disaggregating data on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations.

Main Findings: Feeling unable to process COVID-19 news was the greatest predictor of overall psychological distress

Students distressed by pandemic news consumption

Staying informed during a public health emergency is important when making decisions about staying safe. However, emerging research is finding that engaging with news on the COVID-19 pandemic can cause harm — especially if someone doesn’t moderate their consumption and particularly among those who have pre-existing mental health conditions.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut found that college students with anxiety disorders have experienced significant distress related to following news about the pandemic. But it’s not just that the students kept up with the news; it’s that they felt they weren’t able to process it, which resulted in psychological distress, according to the poster presentation.

Colleges — whether the students are on campus or attending virtually — should offer services to help students to process pandemic news, study authors recommended. “Resources to help students process news media, such as a mental health hotline, peer support groups, one-on-one counseling sessions to teach coping strategies, should be made widely available,” said study author Emily Fritzson, a graduate student at the University of Connecticut.

Stigma changes views on violence for bisexual women

Sexual stigma from peers and society may amplify physical or psychological violence experienced by bisexual women from intimate partners.

Bisexual women experience higher rates of intimate partner violence than their lesbian and heterosexual peers. More than three-fourths of bisexual women experience psychological intimate partner violence and more than half have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner, according to CDC data.

And new data presented at an APHA 2021 poster session finds that biphobic sexual stigma may put bisexual women at greater risk. According to survey data collected by researchers, bisexual women who reported experiencing biphobic hostility and victimization were also significantly more likely to be tolerant of abuse.

“At minimum, public health efforts are essential to promoting widespread condemnation of all forms of violence and abuse that stigmatize and endanger bisexual women,” says study author Sabrina Islam, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California-Berkeley.

Pandemic caused decrease in physical activity among school children

All around the world, people did their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by cutting back on everyday activities. But while staying home from school may have prevented disease, it may have inadvertently reduced physical activity for young children by a substantial amount.

In fact, youth engaged in roughly half of amount of physical activity that they did pre-pandemic, according to a poster presented at APHA 2021. Researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City used data from a physical activity program that was shuttered by school closures. Students were then equipped with accelerometers to track their daily steps and to detect physical activity.

“While other studies have reported that they have observed, or obtained self-reported data, that shows a decrease in physical activity, this study was able to objectively measure just how much physical activity declined when students went to virtual learning,” said study author Amanda Grimes, an assistant professor at the university. The study found that daily steps decreased by 51.8% and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity decreased by 38 minutes per week.

Visit the APHA 2021 online program to browse all of this year’s poster offerings and interact with presenters.