Dr. Pinedo has developed two highly focused lines of research that examine critical social determinants of health that are salient among Latino populations (e.g., immigration-related stressors) that may help explain and address existing health disparities related to substance misuse and use of treatment services.His first line of research examines how stressors stemming from immigration enforcement policies (e.g., deportations, fear of deportation) shape vulnerability to substance misuse among Latinos. His second line of work investigates factors that discourage Latinos in need from using substance use treatment services. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, his research underscores the importance of structural (e.g., immigration policies, deportations), social (e.g., anti-immigration discrimination), and cultural (e.g., cultural perceptions surrounding substance use) factors in influencing the health behaviors, risk practices, and health outcomes of Latinos.
The influence of immigration enforcement policies on the mental health and substance-using behaviors of US-born Latinos
Immigration policies produce immigration-related stressors that carry important mental health and substance use implications. Immigration-related stressors stemming from growing anti-immigration policies and sentiments, coupled with continued high rates of detentions, deportations, and immigration raids, has created a state of heightened emotional stress and distress for Latinos–both immigrants and non-immigrants (i.e., US-born). Immigration-related stressors can be conceptualized as a form of discrimination that is directly linked to anti-immigration experiences, including xenophobia, and distinct from race/ethnicity-based discrimination. Immigration-related stressors can encompass a broad range of adverse discriminatory experiences and stressors, such as anti-immigration sentiments (e.g., being told to go ‘back to your country’), being racially profiled by immigration and law enforcement officers (e.g., unlawfully being stopped and questioned about legal immigration status), and fear of immigration enforcement consequences (e.g., intense worry over the potential of being detained or deported and resulting consequences). As such, immigration policies foster circumstances that elicit significant emotional and psychological harms, feelings of racism and discrimination, and mistrust of government agencies among US-born Latinos. Dr. Pinedo currently has multiple quantitative and qualitative studies that aim to examine the role of immigration stress on the health of US-born Latinos.
Latino-White disparities in the use of substance use treatment services
Latinos are less likely to use specialty alcohol treatment than other racial and ethnic groups, with the greatest disparity being between Latinos and Whites. There are few studies that effectively examine the barriers to treatment in these populations. Dr. Pinedo recently completed a qualitative study that aimed to better understand why people, and especially Latinos, in need do not use substance use treatment services. Additionally, this work informed a current quantitative study that will validate a newly developed, theory-driven treatment scale called the Barriers to Specialty Alcohol Treatment Scale (BSAT) through cognitive interviews and psychometric system. Analyses will investigate barriers driving Latino-White disparities in treatment utilization and enhance our understanding of this disparity. This project is funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; R01AA027767; PI: Pinedo