Addressing Syndemic Health Disparities Among Latin Immigrants Using Peer Support


The purpose of this project was to develop a multidimensional understanding of synergistic connections between food-related and emotional health in the lives of Latina immigrants using a community-engaged approach with women who participate in a social isolation support group. The domains of interest included the intersection of social isolation, depression, diabetes, and food insecurity. We tested an innovative “structured dialogue” (SD) approach to integrating the domains of interest into the group dynamic. We documented key positive impacts of participation in the group on women’s everyday experiences and emotional wellbeing. We demonstrated the extent to which this approach increases women’s knowledge of food and food resources, and their self-efficacy for dealing with diabetes and food insecurity.

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Fig. 1


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    At the time of the creation of the SISG and at the time of the study, the HC was called The St. Joseph Center for Children and Families. In 2017, the name of the Center and its organizational affiliation changed.


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We would like to thank women who are members of the social isolation support group who participated in this research in multidimensional ways. Their stories are inspiring and their insights were extremely valuable as we developed our interpretations. We would also like to thank Betty Skipper, PhD, for her wise advice as we prepared the statistical analysis for this article, and Helene Silverblatt, MD, for her support for this research as a senior research mentor.


The project discussed here, Understanding and Reducing Health Disparities Among Latina Immigrant Women in Relation to Synergistic Dynamics Associated with Social Isolation, Depression, Diabetes and Food Insecurity, was funded by a Community Engagement Pilot Award #CTSC0010-5 from the University of New Mexico (UNM) Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC) from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Janet Page-Reeves.

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Human Subjects

This project was reviewed and approved by the Human Research Protections Office (HRPO) as project #14-006 on February 4, 2014. The HRPO is the Institutional Review Board (IRB) ethics committee for research with human subjects at UNM. All participants provided signed informed consent.

Conflict of Interest

We note that Jackie Perez works for the Hopkins Center, and previously worked for the Center under its previous name, St. Joseph Center for Children and Families. Tamara Thiedeman previously worked for the St. Joseph Center for Children and Families. Perez is currently the Director of the Center and Thiedeman was its previous Director. Both are licensed mental health professionals and they provide/provided services to clients, including some of the women who participated in this study. Both were involved in establishing the Women’s Social Isolation Support Group discussed here and both participated in the research. However, we believe that this relationship did not interfere with their ability to carry out the research, as they were interested in an objective analysis of the dynamics of the group process as part of an assessment of the services they provide.

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Page-Reeves, J., Shrum, S., Rohan-Minjares, F. et al. Addressing Syndemic Health Disparities Among Latin Immigrants Using Peer Support. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 6, 380–392 (2019).

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  • Women
  • Hispanics/Latinos
  • Immigrants
  • Peer support
  • Social isolation
  • Depression
  • Food insecurity
  • Diabetes