UAMS Researchers Produce Journal’s Top Cited, Most Downloaded Article on COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

By David Robinson

The article, “COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: Race/Ethnicity, Trust and Fear,” resulted from a study conducted by researchers at the UAMS Office of Community Health & Research, directed by Pearl A. McElfish, Ph.D., MBA. Don Willis, Ph.D., is the paper’s lead author.

Don Willis, Ph.D.

Don Willis, Ph.D.

McElfish, a professor based at the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus, was notified of the recognition by the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics (ASCPT), which publishes the Clinical and Translational Science (CTS) journal.

“The primary goal of CTS is to become the beacon of translational science, and articles such as yours clearly show the value of translational science,” Alethea Gerding, managing editor for ASCPT, said in an email.

The study was the first to look at sociodemographic differences in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in a rural state that at the time ranked third for prevalence of individuals at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy was highest among respondents with lower household income, some college and little to no fear of infection from COVID-19, the article states.

Since the article’s publication in July 2021, it has been downloaded 20,548 times (9,466 times in 2022) and cited 175 times (88 times in 2022).

In addition to being recognized last year for having the most downloaded article, ASCPT awarded the team its 2022 Clinical and Translational Science Award for reflecting the publisher’s goals of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

The study resulted from a survey that drew exclusively from a registry of now more than 8,600 diverse Arkansans who have signed up as potential research volunteers.

Established by the UAMS Translational Research Institute, the ARresearch registry enabled McElfish’s team to gather responses from 1,288 registrants.

McElfish said ASCPT’s recognition is an honor for her team and a credit to the Translational Research Institute for creating the ARresearch registry and to all the registrants who volunteered to complete the survey.

“This article is of value to our research peers across the United States because all the pieces were in place to conduct quality translational research,” McElfish said.

Laura James, M.D., director of the Translational Research Institute, said the article’s popularity is an example of how the institute’s nationally funded programs are influencing researchers across the country and aiding their efforts to address unmet health challenges.

The Translational Research Institute is supported by a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, grant UL1 TR003107.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.