Research

The research conducted at La Esperanza typically lies in three main groups:

  • understanding treatment-seeking behaviors
  • understanding contextual and cultural factors that influence mental health
  • understanding the healthcare and health disparities in the United States

counseling

Research has well noted that a range of barriers can affect access and utilization of mental health services, including those at the systems, community and provider levels; less attention has been given to culturally relevant variables at the patient level that might be associated with mental healthcare underutilization. La Esperanza aims to focus on the culturally relevant variables at the patient level (as well as the community and system levels) that might be associated with healthcare underutilization.

Culture and Context on Attitudes Towards Health Services

This research uses qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate the role of cultural and contextual factors that impact perceptions and attitudes towards mental health services. Multiple publications have resulted from the study with more work currently in progress.

Religiosity and Mental Health-Seeking Behaviors

This research uses qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate the role of religion and spirituality on use of formal mental health services among Latinas/os in the United States. Multiple publications have resulted from the study, with more work currently in progress.

therapist and patient

Considerable research is also documenting how sociocultural and other contextual factors influence mental health outcomes. That is, many cultural and proximal variables may serve as protective buffers or risk factors for mental disorders among ethnic minority population. La Esperanza aims to investigate cultural and proximal variables that may serve as protective buffers or risks for mental disorders among individuals from ethnic minority and marginalized groups.

Early Immigration Policy and Psychological Impact

This research uses qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate how early immigration and current federal policies (DACA, DREAM Act) have impacted the psychological impact of first-generation students. This study is in the initial stages and multiple publications are expected to result from this study.

Religiosity and the Immigrant Health Paradox

This research uses qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate the role of religious attendance on the immigrant health paradox among Latinas/os in the United States. Multiple publications have resulted from the study, with more work currently in progress.

therapist and teen patient

Research has well established that healthcare and healthcare disparities disproportionately affect individuals from lower socioeconomic and ethnic minority backgrounds. La Esperanza aims to identify and remove the educational, political, psychological, social and nutritional barriers to the prevention and treatment of health and mental health outcomes.

Reducing Psychological and Oral Health Disparities for Children and Adolescents

Members of La Esperanza are affiliated with VCU’s iCubed core, which promotes a transdisciplinary approach with researchers specializing in dentistry, policy, health administration, public affairs, social work and education. This core works toward innovative solutions for reducing health and healthcare disparities for children and adolescents. This project is underway and is expected to publish various studies in transdisciplinary journals in the areas of psychology, dentistry, policy, health administration, public affairs, social work and education.

Latina/o Needs Assessment for Adolescent Health in Richmond

This research uses qualitative methods to explore the needs of adolescent health and treatment utilization in Richmond, Va. Several studies have formerly examined adolescent service utilization from marginalized groups in Richmond. However, as the Latina/o population is drastically growing in Richmond, little is known about Latina/o needs and service utilization specifically for adolescent health. This study is in the developmental stages and is expected to produce several publications.