Dr. Karen Flórez, assistant professor of environmental, occupational and geospatial sciences at the CUNY School of Public Health, was awarded a three-year, $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to conduct a study of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) among Mexican Americans.
The goal of the proposed project is to examine the influence of the personal social networks of Mexican American adults on diabetes-related health behaviors by drawing on a conceptual framework that conceives acculturation as a two-level phenomenon involving the group and the individual.
This project will build upon ongoing collaborations with two large Catholic churches in Los Angeles and New York. Dr. Flórez and her team will explore group differences in social networks between Spanish-dominant and English-dominant Mexican-American adults attending Sunday services at the churches. They will then select information-rich cases for in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations, which should provide insight into diabetes-related behaviors and values that may be socially transmitted. This study will provide preliminary data for an R01 application that will develop and test a church-based intervention that focuses on the most influential network members for diabetes-related health behaviors across the acculturation continuum.
“Before we begin leveraging social networks among immigrant and U.S.-born Latinos for health promotion purposes, we need to understand the extent to which these serve as conduits for diabetes-related health behaviors,” says Dr. Flórez. “Especially since the immigration and acculturation experience likely has both positive and negative repercussions on Latinos’ social ties.”