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Asian American Center on Disparities Research


Major Research Programs

Other Studies

NLAAS - Biracial Mental Health, Identity & Adjustment

Primary Investigators: , Nolan Zane, and David Takeuchi

This study looks at biracial mental health on a nationwide scale, and compares biracial to monoracial populations in an attempt to determine how the complexity of ethnicity is related to functioning and psychological distress. Results from the 2000 US Census show that 6.8 million people (2.4%) marked more than one race category (US Census Bureau, 2001) with the overwhelming majority (93.3%) reporting exactly two races. Despite the presence of this rapidly growing minority group, little if any research has been conducted on biracial mental health. Most studies conducted with biracials are severely limited in size and data collection methods. Data from the present study comes from the first ever national epidemiological household survey of Asian Americans in the United States: the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS). NLAAS is the largest, most rigorously conducted psychiatric epidemiological and service use study of Asian Americans and Latinos in the U.S.

Future research may include: (1) Identifying how psychosocial factors such as parenting styles, peer group ethnicity, neighborhood/school ethnic make-up, primary household language, phenotype, parent ethnicity, and personality styles may lead to varying ethnic self-identities and bicultural adaptation modes in the adolescent biracial population. (2) Examining the academic performance of biracial students as a function of ethnic self-identity and bicultural adaptation mode. (3) Studying the effect of ethnic self-identity development and different bicultural adaptation modes on biracial social and psychological adjustment outcomes.

Examining Health and Mental Health in Diverse Older Adults

Primary Investigators: Oanh Meyer, Ph.D. (Department of Neurology; UC Davis School of Medicine)

Research Assistant Position
Seeking a research assistant for a study on the individual and neighborhood level factors that influence the mental health of diverse older adults. The study is being conducted by Dr. Oanh Meyer in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine. The research assistant's primary responsibility will be compiling and organizing secondary data sources, including but not limited to adult day centers, medical provider addresses, and Census data (e.g., socioeconomic status). This is an excellent opportunity to learn about how the social environment affects health, and how to link neighborhood level data (Census) with other data sources. Research assistants are expected to commit about 5-10 hours/week, and work can be done remotely. Research assistants can receive units or transcript notation. A cover letter and curriculum vita should be submitted to Dr. Oanh Meyer at Position to start immediately.

Impacts, Mechanisms, and Individual Variations in the Stress Response to Racial Microaggressions

Primary Investigators:

People of Color (POC) report racial microaggressions as the most commonly experienced racial discrimination (D.W. Sue, 2010). These are everyday slights delivered as "put-downs" and denigrations directed towards POC (Pierce, Carew, Pierce, Gonzalez, and Willis, 1978). Scholars are interested in examining the impact of racial microaggressions on psychological and physical health outcomes, yet only a few studies uncover the mechanisms by which racial microaggressions impact mental health and physical health. Reviews of existing research suggest that discrimination is associated with depression and anxiety symptoms, decreased psychological well-being, lower self-regard, and physical health issues (e.g., higher blood pressure and cardiovascular disease) (Carter, 2007; Clark et al., 1999; Harrell et al., 2003, Mays et al., 2007, and Sue et al., 2007). Critics of racial microaggressions research claim that racial microaggressions are not as impactful compared to general forms of discrimination and therefore, not as stressful for POC (Thomas, 2008; Schacht, 2008; D.W. Sue, 2008). They argue that racial microaggressions are experienced by all people, White Americans included. This study conceptualizes racial microaggressions as a stressor and uses the transitional model of stress (Lazarus and Folkman, 1987) to uncover the mechanisms by which racial microaggressions may negatively impact mental and physical health. The major goals are to 1) determine if microaggressions are actually more stressful to POC, in this case, Asian Americans, 2) examine why racial microaggressions are more stressful for Asian Americans compared to White Americans, and 3) study individual differences within Asian Americans to determine if certain marginalized individuals are more vulnerable to racial microaggressions.

Interdisciplinary Frontiers in the Humanities and Arts (IFHA): Interdisciplinary Reappraisals to Enhance Health and Resilience in Immigrant Communities

Primary Investigators: , Jill Joseph, Lynette Hunter, Carolina Apesoa-Varano, and

These projects use an interdisciplinary and community-based participatory research approach to enrich health disparities research. This research is (a) more holistic in nature, reflecting the reality that biological, psychological, spiritual, and other factors interact to affect health, (b) centered on how people can effectively "resist" and proactively cope with stressors and environmental pathogens, (c) very adept at identifying cultural mechanisms and processes that may be linked to better health, (d) able to highlight important variations in cultural and ethnic groups by using idiographic methodologies (e.g., personal narration), and (e) less dependent on diagnostic categorizations and more on group formations that naturally occur in a community. Elucidating "hidden" sources of resiliency and strength at both the individual and community level is essential for fundamentally transforming the dominant paradigms of health disparities, and for effective public health approaches that are truly culturally valid and meaningful. Current and future projects include:

Project 1 (Wave 1 Complete): Enhancing Health and Resiliency in Underemployed Hmong and Vietnamese Young Adults
Working with our community-based partners at Asian Resources, Inc. (Sacramento, CA) we recruit Hmong and Vietnamese young adults (ages 18-25) using job development and employment training services, and who are experiencing significant distress. Weekly culturally embedded movement-based activities are undertaken in a group setting and outcomes will be contrasted with a similar group of individuals meeting together for purposes of social support and informational exchange.

Project 2 (Beginning April 2014): Enhancing Health and Resiliency in Underemployed Hmong and Vietnamese Older Adults
Working with our community-based partners at Asian Resources, Inc. (Sacramento, CA) we recruit Hmong and Vietnamese older adults (ages 60-75) using job development and employment training services, and who are experiencing significant distress. Weekly culturally embedded movement-based activities are undertaken in a group setting and outcomes will be contrasted with a similar group of individuals meeting together for purposes of social support and informational exchange.

Project 3 (Future): Enhancing Health and Resiliency in Vietnamese Cancer Patients
Working with both community-based partners and colleagues at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, we will recruit Vietnamese cancer patients to participate in a culturally embedded movement intervention delivered individually using mobile health technologies. Outcomes would be contrasted in similar Vietnamese cancer patients receiving health information relevant to symptom management and support, also using mobile health technologies.

Project 4 (Future): Changes in Biomarkers of Stress among at Risk Mexican-American Youths Participating in Culturally Embedded Festivity-Associated Movement
Second and third generation Mexican-American youths will participate in a 6-8 week movement group in preparation for a public performance on the Day of the Dead. In addition to self-report data, biomarkers of stress reactivity will be monitored in this group and in similar Mexican-American youths working as a group to create Day of the Dead shrines for public display.

Project 5 (Future): Enhancing Health and Resiliency in Latino Family Members Caring for Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment
We will assess the benefits of culturally embedded movement, storytelling/story singing, and visual arts among monolingual Latino families caring for an older adult with significant cognitive impairment. Outcomes will be compared to a similar group of caretakers who meet to discuss caretaking distress and obtain social support in the context of Latino culture.

Student Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Campus Ethnocultural Diversity

Primary Investigators: , Gordon Hall, and Jennifer Chain

This study tests Hall et al.'s (2011) three-class model of student support towards campus ethnocultural diversity (active support, passive support, and dissent) on two college campuses with different levels of student diversity. This study will examine (a) what student attitudes and behaviors reflect different categories in diversity support, (b) what factors affect student attitudes and behaviors toward campus diversity, and (c) the relationship between different categories of diversity support with positive academic and civic outcomes.

The Effects of Face Concern on Self-Disclosure and Emotion Regulation

Primary Investigators: Nolan Zane, and

Face concern is a very salient interpersonal dynamic in many Asian cultures. Scholars have posited that face concern may affect psychotherapy processes among Asian American clients. This study utilizes an experimental analog design to examine the extent to which self-disclosure tendencies and emotion regulation strategies differ among individuals who vary in their levels of face concern. These results have implications for identifying therapeutic processes that may be especially important for ethnic minority clients.

Variations in Emotion Regulation

Primary Investigators: Nolan Zane, and

A major issue in the provision of mental health care is the ability to provide effective treatments for different ethnic groups. Discovering the specific ways in which Asian Americans vary from White Americans in coping with and expressing their emotions may help mental health service providers be more aware of how they can effectively treat members of various ethnic groups. Thus, the aim of this study is to determine if there are cultural variations in emotion regulation, particularly in response to negative emotions. Since the magnitude of variation may depend on a specific target emotion, we are examining four target emotions: depression, anxiety, anger, and shame. Findings from this study may better equip mental health service providers with the knowledge they need to apply more culturally-sensitive practices in psychotherapy.

Utilization and Outcomes of University Counseling Services for Ethnic Minority Students

Primary Investigators: Nolan Zane, Sam Park, Jenss Change, Amy La, and

Significant disparities exist in mental health treatments for ethnic minorities. This study investigates ethnic minority students' use of university counseling services to investigate sociocultural and clinical factors related to utilization and outcomes. These results have implications in improving the treatment experiences of students who utilize university counseling services.