University Professor to hold special on South Florida PBS

Headshot of Dr. Mariana Sanchez. Photo retrieved from Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work.

Written by: Mathew Messa/ Staff Writer


On WPBT 2 South Florida PBS at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 29, Dr. Mariana Sanchez, FIU assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, aims to answer questions regarding the Hispanic paradox.

Foreign born Hispanic citizens tend to be healthier than U.S. born citizens, but the longer they stay in the U.S. their health tends to decrease in what is widely known in the public health field as the Hispanic paradox.

Sanchez has previously researched on the health disparities caused by the paradox through various studies, two of which are large scale observations of health disparities in Miami’s Hispanic community.

She currently teaches courses at the doctoral level that examines health disparities in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean for issues such as substance abuse, HIV and diabetes.

Sanchez’s latest study is a collaborative effort between her and Dr. Eduardo Romano from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. The study was granted $2.38 million by the National Institute of Health.

The study collects information on 500 Hispanic immigrants who have been in Miami for less than one year. The objective of the study is to observe pre and post immigration drinking and driving.

Hispanics were seen to hold a large percentage of alcohol-related deaths in car crashes, according to Sanchez.  

Sanchez and her team asked the subjects questions relating to their social lives, family relations, drinking habits, knowledge of drinking laws and gender roles.  

The team collected data on the subjects’ lives before moving to the U.S. for three years, and then continued to collect data for another two years to see how they have changed once they’ve adjusted to their lives in the U.S.

The data collected will then be used to make connections between aspects of the subjects’ lives and their links to substance abuse.

Sanchez is also working on another study which also follows 500 Hispanic immigrants and substance abuse but for over a decade instead.

Sanchez said that South Florida is a unique place to perform her studies due to the diverse national origins of its hispanic immigrants.

“Most of the studies that have looked at Hispanic health disparities have been with Mexican populations… the Latino population is very heterogeneous,” said Sanchez. “South Florida is so unique because we have such a diverse latino population… and it makes it a perfect place to look at how differences in national origins are associated with these health outcomes.”

HIV is another area Sanchez plans to cover in her special on the South Florida PBS. The disease is also one of the main focuses of the doctorate courses she teaches.

Sanchez also told Student Media that the disease affects Hispanic populations more than any other ethnicities and pointed out that Miami-Dade County has higher numbers of HIV incidents than any other county in the country.

“My ultimate goal is creating awareness about these issues, and the importance of developing prevention to tackle them,” said Sanchez.

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