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Gonzalez-Guarda Awarded $3.4 Million to Improve Immigrant Health

Friday, October 20, 2017

Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda, PhD, MPH, RN, CPH, FAAN, Associate Professor, is the Primary Investigator on a grant awarded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities for more than $3.4 million. This grant will provide resources to improve the health and well-being of young adult Latino immigrants.

Currently, Hispanic immigrants are healthier when they arrive in the United States than they are when they have lived here for a lengthier period of time. Gonzalez-Guarda’s grant will fund research surrounding stress and resilience in the Durham area Hispanic immigrant population.

Gonzalez-Guarda is working with a dynamic team that includes experts in cultural specific measurement and approaches, community leaders and a bench scientist with expertise in measuring stress biomarkers to effectively conduct her research study. Co Investigators include experts from the Duke University School of Nursing, Julia Walker, PhD and Irene Felsman, DNP, MPH, RN, C-GH and community partners from El Centro Hispano, Pilar Rocha-Goldberg.  

Gonzalez-Guarda’s study: Salud/Health, Estrés/Stress, and Resiliencia/Resilience Among Young Adult Hispanics Immigrants in the U.S will examine the role that multiple acculturation stressors and resilience factors at the individual, family and community levels play in the decay or maintenance of health among young adult Hispanic immigrants aged between 18-44 years old. Gonzalez-Guarda’s team will be following participants of the study over a two year period. During that time the team will visit every six months to collect blood and urine samples and self-reported data using validated and culturally specific measures. The team will measure co-occurring behavioral and mental health conditions including substance abuse, intimate partner violence, risky sexual behaviors, depression as well as stress biomarkers including chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.

“This study will help identify which types of acculturation stressors and resilience factors are most important in influencing health and well-being among young adult Latino immigrants” said Gonzalez-Guarda.

The award will help further Gonzalez-Guarda’s research by helping to identify which types of acculturation stressors and resilience factors are most important in influencing health and well-being among young adult Latino immigrants. Although Gonzalez-Guarda’s previous work has identified acculturation stress as the most important social determinant of risk behaviors among Latino immigrants, this study will help identify which types of stressors matter most and how. It will also help explain how resilience including coping strategies, family support and community connections protect this community and buffer against the behavioral and mental health and biological consequences of stress.  

“The findings of this study will help inform tailored interventions to prevent the health consequences of stress and promote resilience among young adult Latino immigrants,” said Gonzalez-Guarda “They also have important implications for health and social service providers, as well as policy makers."