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Diversity of ASHA research participants in 2020 (Millager et al., 2024)

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posted on 2024-05-07, 18:37 authored by Ryan A. Millager, Jacob I. Feldman, Zachary J. Williams, Kiiya Shibata, Keysha A. Martinez-Torres, Katherine M. Bryan, Dillon G. Pruett, Jade T. Mitchell, Jennifer E. Markfeld, Brandon Merritt, Derek E. Daniels, Robin M. Jones, Tiffany G. Woynaroski

Purpose: One manifestation of systemic inequities in communication sciences and disorders (CSD) is the chronic underreporting and underrepresentation of sex, gender, race, and ethnicity in research. The present study characterized recent demographic reporting practices and representation of participants across CSD research.

Method: We systematically reviewed and extracted key reporting and participant data from empirical studies conducted in the United States with human participants published in the year 2020 in journals by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA; 407 articles comprising a total of 80,058 research participants, search completed in November 2021). Sex, gender, race, and ethnicity were operationalized per National Institutes of Health guidelines.

Results: Sex or gender was reported in 85.5% of included studies; race in 33.7%; and ethnicity in 13.8%. Sex and gender were clearly differentiated in 3.4% of relevant studies. Where reported, median proportions for race and ethnicity were significantly different from the U.S. population, with underrepresentation noted for all non-White racial groups and Hispanic participants. Moreover, 64.7% of studies that reported sex or gender and 67.2% of studies that reported race or ethnicity did not consider these respective variables in analyses or discussions.

Conclusions: At present, research published in ASHA journals frequently fails to report key demographic data summarizing the characteristics of participants. Moreover, apparent gaps in the representation of minoritized racial and ethnic groups threaten the external validity of CSD research and broader health care equity endeavors in the United States. Although our study is limited to a single year and publisher, our results point to several steps for readers that may bring greater accountability, consistency, and diversity to the discipline.

Supplemental Material S1. Intercoder reliability for critical data items.

Supplemental Material S2. Articles included in final corpus for systematic review.

Millager, R. A., Feldman, J. I., Williams, Z. J., Shibata, K., Martinez-Torres, K. A., Bryan, K. M., Pruett, D. G., Mitchell, J. T., Markfeld, J. E., Merritt, B., Daniels, D. E., Jones, R. M., & Woynaroski, T. (2024). Diversity of research participant gender, race, and ethnicity in communication sciences and disorders: A systematic review and quantitative synthesis of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association publications in 2020. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 9(3), 836–852.


Study data were managed using REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) electronic data capture tools hosted at Vanderbilt University (Harris et al., 2009), supported by funding from National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Grant UL1TR000445. Several authors’ contributions are supported, in part, by external funding, as follows: Jacob I. Feldman and Dillon G. Pruett (NCATS Grant TL1TR002244), Zachary J. Williams (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDCD] Grant F30DC019510 and National Institute of General Medical Sciences Grant T32GM007347), Robin M. Jones (NIDCD Grants R01DC020311 and R21DC016723), and Tiffany Woynaroski (NIDCD Grant R01DC020186).