Research Project Summary

The stigma associated with mental health persists in the Filipino community as they are less likely to seek mental health services, possibly related to the Filipino cultural value of hiya, the Tagalog word for “shame” or “saving face.” As a response to stress, the body triggers the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and subsequently releases cortisol, the “stress hormone.” Also referred to as the “wear and tear” on the body due to chronic stress, the allostatic load is found to be higher in low socio-economic status, social isolation, and ethnic minorities. Higher allostatic load index scores are seen in women with gestational diabetes, preterm birth and preeclampsia, maternal and fetal complications, and cardiovascular disease later in life. Despite representing one of the fastest growing ethnic populations in the United States and NJ and foundational studies showing the role of social determinants of health in promoting health and health equity in the Filipino American community, the health needs of Filipino American women in the SNJ area are poorly understood and have not been fully assessed. This research proposes to conduct a women’s health and mental health needs assessment for adult Filipino American women in SNJ.

Research Project Goals

Data from this research project will serve as a foundation for the research program I aim to build focusing on identifying and addressing health disparities among Filipino American women. The data will lead to the development of culturally-relevant, evidence-based multi-level approaches to address health disparities among FilAm women and their families. These data could be leveraged by my research team, Rowan and community partners, and SJIPH to 1. further build capacity 2. inform research 3. influence population health programming in the region 4. shape curriculum at post-secondary institutions in Southern New Jersey and beyond (particularly health professional programs such as nursing, medicine, social work, pharmacy, and other programs related to education, business, and policy) 5. be used as a valuable source for the communities in Southern New Jersey and beyond to promote health equity among Filipino Americans. 6. promote health equity by creating a toolkit specifically for Filipino American women specifically addressing health optimization across the lifespan.

Research Project Objectives