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CURRENT RESEARCH

Developing Research Studies include:

Stress for Success: The Impact of Occupational Stressors on the African American & Latino Professoriate

Occupational stress manifests itself in stress-related disorders (physical, mental), poor work performance, reduced productivity and retention of qualified employees in the workforce. This project investigates the relationships between occupational stressors, organizational factors, and moderators to explain variation in the physical and mental health of under-represented minority (URM) men and women faculty. Mixed methods are proposed to test the central hypothesis- URM women faculty will report a higher reported number of physical and mental health conditions than URM men. Data is collected from four sources; 1) survey, 2) focus groups, 3) in-depth interviews, and, 4) review of Curriculum Vitae. The sample will consist of 300 (150 males & 150 females) URM tenure track assistant or tenured associate professors in Research I and II institutions. These data will serve as the baseline for a larger longitudinal study to assess career path and progression over a three year follow-up time period.

Differences in Risk Factors by Hypertension Status Among Postmenopausal African American and Latino Women

The goal of this study is to investigate how various risk factors, socioeconomic status (SES), psychosocial, and access related factors, mediated by health behaviors and medical history, can increase our understanding of race/ethnic and gender differences in hypertension status (normotensive vs. hypertensive; treated vs. untreated; controlled vs. uncontrolled) and transitions in hypertension status for African American and Latino women ages 50 to79 years. Using secondary data analyses of the Women's' Health Initiative (WHI) for the African American (n=14,618) and Latino (n=6484) subsamples of the Observational Study (OS), Clinical Trials and Extended Study (2005-2010), we will address the risk factors that place racial/ethnic women at risk for critical levels of hypertension. Our main analytic interest in comparing hypertension status at baseline and transitions of hypertension status in subsequent years is to capture how risk factors can accumulate and exacerbate health conditions over time. Specifically, this study 1) examines the association between SES, psychosocial, and access factors with hypertension status (normotensive vs. hypertensive) and transitions in status and tests whether the associations are mediated by medical history and health behaviors among African American and Latino women, 2) assesses the underlying factors contributing to differences in two indicators of hypertension status a) treated vs. untreated hypertensives and b) controlled vs. uncontrolled hypertension status and transitions in status among African American and Latino women that have been identified as having hypertension, and 3) examines the relationship between access to care and geographic availability for health care services and hypertension status (normotensive vs. hypertensive and treated vs. untreated) and transitions in status for African American and Latino women. Of significance, assessing hypertension endpoints over time periods will allow a longitudinal assessment of the effects of SES on hypertension status. More importantly, the patterns of outcomes of the study will illuminate our understanding of the underlying factors that contribute to disparities in hypertension status for racial/ethnic women. This project is innovative since it is one of the very few studies to examine incidence and prevalence of hypertension status by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status using longitudinal data in efforts to help clinicians and health policy makers reduce disparities and increase cardiovascular risk prevention strategies to improve population health.

Assessing and Reducing Cardiovascular Risk for Central/South American Adults

Limited research has been conducted on CVD risk factors and effective interventions among Latinos of Central and South American origin (CSA). Specific aims of this study are to: (1) assess health behaviors, social and psychosocial CVD risk factors among adult Central/South American men and women; (2) examine the associations between psychosocial, social and health behavior cardiovascular risk factors with clinical measurements among adult CSA men and women; and (3) conduct a pilot study with lay health promoters to test the effectiveness of literacy and linguistic appropriate health education using the Model for Improvement to improve CVD risk profiles among CSA adults. A cross-sectional health interview and examination survey of 400 CSA 30-64 year old adults residing in Montgomery County MD will be conducted, followed by an intervention with 30 lay community health promoters. The intervention includes 14 contact points; pre- and post-test instruments will measure effectiveness of the intervention.

Does Stress “Get Under the Skin” Differently By Social Status? Identifying Essential Bio-Social Pathways for Cardiovascular Disease Morbidity

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the major cause of death in the United States and racial/ethnic minorities have high incidence and prevalence rates compared to other groups in the population.  According to the American Heart Association (2009), most recent prevalence rates for CVD were highest for blacks (45%) compared to Whites (33%) and Hispanics make up the largest ethnic group with increasing rates (32%) relative to their representation in the population.  Although studies have documented population differences in CVD, the underlying biological and social risk factors that work concomitantly to account for these differences are not well researched or understood.  Using secondary data from the 2006 health and Retirement Study Core Data File and Biomarker Supplement, we will examine the association between social status, SES, psycho-social adversities, biomarkers of disease, health status and health behaviors to assess their relationship(s) to CVD morbidity.  Our main analytic interest in examining these relationships is to identify essential bio-social pathways of disease vulnerability, the mechanisms that mediate or moderate those relationships and the risk factors that place marginalized minorities (Blacks and Hispanics) at a disadvantage for CVD morbidity at older (50+yrs) rather than younger ages (<25yrs).  This project is innovative since it is one of the very few studies to examine how social risk factors “get under the skin” differently for status groups in efforts to identify the important distal mechanisms involved that disproportionately increase VCD risk f or Blacks and Hispanics.  Implications and outcomes of the study are aimed to help clinicians and health policy makers reduce disparities and increase cardiovascular risk prevention strategies to improve population health.

Childhood Origins of Health Disparities in Young Adulthood

The primary objective in the proposed application is to determine the independent and interacting influences of gender, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES) at the family and community level on overweight and health among adolescents and young adults. Our central hypothesis is that social/cultural factors (e.g. preferences and norms) and structural factors (e.g. differential access to resources) interact to explain the disparities in weight status observed across racial/ethnic groups. Our collective experience in research on Hispanic, African American, Asian, and majority health, childhood obesity, the analysis of health outcomes, and our experience with management and analysis of large datasets make us uniquely qualified to conduct this research project.

Though diverse in subject matter and format, intersectional work is characterized by

1) an analytical strategy that begins with the experiences and struggles of previously excluded and oppressed groups – primarily people of color – and examines the ways multiple sectors influence their life choices and chances;

2) an examination of the nature of power and its implementation in maintaining interconnected structures of inequality that affect individual and group identities and experiences; and

3) efforts to promote social justice and social change by linking research and practice, thus creating a holistic approach to the eradication of disparities.

For further reading on intersectionality, please browse our Intersectional Research Database.