Letter from the Executive Editor

  • Maria Bertrand University of Minnesota School of Public Health


How does a word build momentum, such that when we consider this past year, we also think unprecedented? The 2020 Editorial Board has used the momentum of an unprecedented year to guide our own leadership. As stated in the Public Health Review’s mission, we strive to create a platform for the discovery, development, and dissemination of high-quality information regarding important public health issues and topics that will advance and responsibly inform public health research, policy, and practice. To do so, we made many internal and external changes to the journal.

We incorporated a health equity framework when reviewing articles. Our terrific Section Editors (Angela Han, Chao Yang, and Cole Hanson) worked closely with each author to ensure their article fit within this framework. This issue’s high-quality articles address important public health topics. These include inclusive and equitable healthcare for the LGBTQIA+ community, how to increase access to insulin and extended-release pharmaceuticals, the necessity for disaggregating COVID-19 data by gender, accessible alternatives to commercial soaps in Costa Rica, how educational attainment and citizenship status may relate to one’s health, and the use of a clinical tool to predict the risk of dementia. 

After the murder of George Floyd, we wrote a position statement reflecting on how the Public Health Review can be more anti-racist, inclusive, equitable, and anti-oppressive. We made a major pivot, turning inward to address the goals laid out in the position statement. To be transparent and hold ourselves accountable, we list these goals below and discuss how we did and did not meet them:

  • Listen to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) voices and highlight the health inequities they face
    • Our Section Editors worked closely with authors to ensure that we published as many quality articles as possible, including those written by BIPOC authors and about health inequities BIPOC communities experience.
    • We created a COVID-19 Student Stories series to allow for more creative forms of written and spoken self-expression. Authors were given the option to record themselves reading their stories in our Perspectives COVID-19 Student Stories Mini-series (SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts). 
  • Include and disseminate expertise that centers marginalized communities
    • Several of this issue’s articles focus on marginalized communities, although future issues could do a better job centering the voices of community members.  
    • We updated our reviewer application to include reviewers who speak languages other than English and who have expertise in community engagement, community health, community health promotion, community organizing, and anti-racist and diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. Reviewers must now read and summarize “On Racism: A New Standard for Publishing on Racial Health Inequities” by Rhea W. Boyd, Edwin G. Lindo, Lachelle D. Weeks, and Monica R. McLemore.  
  • Foster relationships with student organizations for coalition building to develop anti-racist practices and publish content aligning with health equity.
    • We continued fostering relationships with the Health Equity Work Group (HEWG), Diversity Network, and the School of Public Health Student Senate. We also reached out to BIPOC-led student groups when recruiting applicants for the 2021 Editorial Board. 
  • Our 2021 Editorial Board application will include an explicit question asking applicants how they have worked to promote health equity. We pledge to compose a more racially diverse 2021 Editorial Board that has a demonstrated commitment to our vision and mission.
    • We created a rigorous and streamlined application process focused exclusively on anti-racism, anti-oppression, and health equity. This included an item requiring applicants to engage with an article related to journalistic standards for centering conversations about race. We focused less on technical skills that can be learned on the job. Our application process also prioritized BIPOC applicants.
    • We expanded past onboarding processes with the purpose of developing lasting institutional memory and a team-based, collaborative group identity.

We are excited for the 2021 Editorial Board to continue and expand upon this work. We know they will incorporate their own visions, values, and perspectives to make the Public Health Review that much more anti-racist, anti-oppressive, equitable, and inclusive. Welcome Madeline Turbes and Chao Yang (Podcast Editors), Marco Morales (Production Editor), Serena Xiong (Executive Editor), Delaine Anderson (Marketing Editor), Drew Gerber (Managing Editor), Grant Zastoupil (Evaluation Editor), Emilija Motivans and Tara Cantwell (Copy Editors), and Ambica Nakhasi and Annie Youngblood (Section Editors)!

With warm regards,

Maria Bertrand 

Editor Introduction