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MCN’s IRB in Action with Nelly Salgado de Snyder, MA, PhD

Two men wearing masks

Why do Mexican men have lower vaccination rates than Mexican women? When Nelly Salgado de Snyder, PhD, MA joined Migrant Clinicians Network as a visiting scholar in 2019, she found an ideal research opportunity to begin to answer that question, through Migrant Clinicians Network’s collaboration with the Ventanilla de Salud, a program within the Mexican Consulate in Austin that seeks to increase health access. The project, which Dr. Salgado de Snyder would develop with MCN interns from The University of Texas at Austin, aimed to engage male visitors to the Mexican Consulate around vaccination – and to give the Ventanilla de Salud an opportunity to follow up with targeted education and information, and access to vaccinations. The first step was to develop a research proposal to provide to MCN’s Institutional Review Board (IRB).

“Usually, when you write the proposal, you have a very clear purpose of the study, so the IRB is able to evaluate the study,” Dr. Salgado de Snyder began. “Then, it’s followed by the methods section. The methods include the procedures – how are you going to get there, how are you going to fulfill that purpose, to answer the research question?” In her case, MCN interns, Jessica Calderon (who is now on MCN staff), Dania Diaz, Alondra Morales, and Brenda Perez, with Dr. Salgado de Snyder as a mentor, developed a questionnaire, which was part of their initial proposal to the IRB.  “You have to send the questions you’re going to ask – that way, the committee can review one question at a time and decide whether the question is helping to answer the proposal’s research question,” she added. “These questions should not just include a direct answer, but they should also ask for information that helps the researchers contextualize or interpret the findings, including asking about social determinants of health.” When the researchers provided the questions, the IRB responded. “Some questions were too personal. For example, we asked about documentation status – you cannot ask that,” Dr. Salgado de Snyder noted. “We eliminated a couple of questions, and sent it back – and then it was approved.” 

Another part of the application process was demonstrating methods around informed consent. The researchers provided their consent form, which includes contact information for both the head researcher and for the IRB Board Chair, should a participant have any questions.

After IRB approval, the researchers collected data – that is, they asked male visitors the seven Spanish-language, IRB-approved multiple-choice questions at the Mexican Consulate in Austin for one month. Then, they spent the next several weeks analyzing the data and interpreting the results for their final research report to the IRB. Dr. Salgado de Snyder developed a research paper out of their findings, with her intern co-authors, which was published in 2020 in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. The research has significant implications given the COVID-19 pandemic, during which vaccine confidence among Mexican males has become an important news story.

“It’s important to understand attitudes around vaccination among Mexican males,” Dr. Salgado de Snyder noted, and she is eager to expand on the data her team collected, to learn more. “At this point, the instrument that we used for data collection was very short – just seven items. But we didn’t know why men don’t get vaccinated, and now we do! … This study can be considered a pilot, and constitute the basis for a larger, more comprehensive study on the topic.”

Read “Exploring Why Adult Mexican Males Do Not Get Vaccinated: Implications for COVID-19 Preventive Actions” in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences:


MCN Streamline Summer 2021

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Associate Director of Communications