Office of Research Enhance Health & Resilience in Immigrant Communities - Office of Research

Enhance Health & Resilience in Immigrant Communities

Enhance Health & Resilience in Immigrant Communities

The Challenge

To strengthen health disparities research with ethnic/racial minority, immigrant populations by integrating the perspectives of the social sciences, health sciences, and the arts.

Enhance Health & Resilience in Immigrant Communities

Why It Is Important

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. Research to date has made little progress in addressing health disparities in racial/ethnic minority and immigrant populations. For example:

  1. Health disparities research is predominantly quantitative and typically focused on risk factors or deficits rather than on strengths and resiliencies.
  2. Health research typically samples those who have developed a disorder or illness rather than those at risk but who do not develop or succumb to disease.
  3. Disparities research often examines racial/ethnic group comparisons which can gloss over rich and informative intra-group variations.
  4. The research frequently addresses medically diagnostic entities considered one at a time so it is unclear if the risk or protective factors are specific to a disorder or a common determinant for illness in general.

Despite anecdotal evidence that expressive and performance arts that enhance cultural traditions and values can motivate, facilitate, and/or empower individuals so that they pursue or adhere to healthier habits or lifestyles, the mechanisms by which this is achieved biologically and/or psychologically remains unclear. The diverse, large, and growing immigrant groups that characterize the U.S., California, and the Sacramento region are less routinely included in such work and for effective public health approaches that are truly culturally valid and meaningful.

Our Approach

The CBPR approach is to address these limitations and thereby enrich health disparities research. We propose work that is:

  1. More holistic in nature, reflecting the reality that biological, psychological, spiritual, and other factors interact to affect health
  2. Centered on how people can effectively “resist” and proactively cope with stressors and environmental pathogens
  3. Adept at identifying cultural mechanisms and processes that may be linked to better health
  4. 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.

Impacts & Highlights

This past year focused primarily on understanding the mechanisms of the Lishi intervention. A physiological study was designed and implemented to determine the feasibility of collecting physiological data associated with the movement-based intervention, and the potential group differences between participants who received Lishi (cultural movement activity), basic stretching and exercises (non-cultural movement activity), or the control activity of coloring (sedentary activity). The primary goal of this study was to determine if the procedures associated with the physiological assessments and its corresponding software can be conducted in a timely and accurate manner when also implementing a movement-based intervention. This goal was met.

Dr. Lynette Hunter collaborated with Lishi International and organized a 3-part workshop that took place at UC Davis, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and with Phoenix Dance Chamber, a traditional, indigenous dance group from China visiting Manoa, HI. The workshop taught Lishi to undergraduate students at UC Davis, high school students in Manoa, and professional dancers.

Team

Nolan Zane Professor of Psychology and Asian American Studies
Lynette Hunter Professor of Theater & Dance
Jill Joseph Professor of Nursing
Carolina Apesoa-Verano Assistant Professor of Nursing
Paul Hastings Professor and Chair of Psychology and the Center for the Mind & Brain
Cindy Y. Huang Postdoc of Psychology
Lauren Berger Graduate Student of Psychology
Duskin Drum Graduate Student of Performance Studies
Kevin O’Connor Graduate Student of Performance Studies
Ayo Walker Graduate Student of Performance Studies
Regina Gutierrez Graduate Student of Performance Studies
Sida Bai Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Angelica Carranza Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Jacinda Chan Undergradaute Student of Psychology
Suzanne Cheng Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Tim Diep Undergraduate Student of Psychology and Computer Science
Tiffany Do Undergraduate Student of Asian American Studies and Human Development
Nancy Fang Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Adira Fogel UndergraduateStudent of Psychology
Cindy Huang Undergraduate Student of Psychology and Communication
Cynthia Li Undergraduate Student of Psychology and Human Development
Jocelyn Lin Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Dan Nguyen Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Kim Nguyen Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Michelle Shin Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Fiona Sun Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Lay Vang Undergraduate Student of Psychology
Andrew Wayment Postgraduate Volunteer of Psychology
Austin Yu Undergraduate Student of Psychology

Please click here to view a video demonstration of a Lishi, cultural movement intervention.

For more information on this program, please contact Tammi Olineka at tlolineka@ucdavis.edu.