About the Latino Center for Health
The Latino Center for Health provides leadership for community-engaged research through capacity building and authentic partnerships with community stakeholders to promote impactful improvements in the health and well-being of Latinx communities in Washington state, regionally, and nationally.
The Latino Center will bring about sustainable changes in health through innovative community-engaged research, and mentorship and training opportunities for students and faculty, drawing upon the multidisciplinary scholarship from the tri-campuses of the University of Washington. Building on and deepening its community partnerships and the university's expertise in health sciences, behavioral health, public health, and child welfare, the Latino Center will create a rich environment for nurturing the next generation of leaders who will respond to current and emerging health and behavioral health issues facing their communities. All efforts will be based on principles of social justice, human rights and inclusion respective of gender, country of nativity, documented status, sexual orientation and abilities. Key to the success of this Center is its partnerships with community stakeholders to translate research into evidence-based practices and policies that promote meaningful and sustainable improvements in health in culturally responsive ways.
Click here for a summarized background of the Latino Center for Health:
Priority Areas of Research
Latinos are an especially vulnerable population, and many factors may discourage them from accessing various forms of care. Not only is this under-utilization harmful to Latinos themselves, it puts the health of the larger community at risk as well. By increasing our understanding of the barriers to access and utilization Latinos face, we can reduce public health risks in entire communities and advance preventative health services. The Center is committed to systematically address the impacts of ethnicity, language barriers, socioeconomic position, and migration history on health service access and utilization as experienced by Latinas and Latinos in such areas as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity across the life-span.
Latinos continue to have less access to mental health care and after entering care they face a higher risk of being misdiagnosed and are less likely to receive care that is consistent with evidence-based treatment recommendations. Mental health care remains a stigma within the Latino community with scarce bilingual and bicultural providers available to provide culturally responsive and informed care. Treatment of mental health symptoms is less understood and, with regards to medication, is less trusted. Other barriers persist, including lack of insurance, lack of transportation as well as acculturative and migration-related stress. The Center is committed to promote the health and quality of life of diverse Latino populations by examining and addressing the access and utilization of mental health care in such areas as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Environmental and Occupational Health
Industries with particularly high densities of Latino workers present special problems for occupational health authorities and practitioners. These include pesticide exposure among migrant farmworkers and also residents and school children due to pesticide drift, on-the-job injury protection, and immigrant workers' use and non-use of worker's compensation claims. The Center is committed to promoting health and safety by collecting and examining data regarding environmental and occupational safety risks and gaps in care. Also, the Center seeks to provide understanding of the social and cultural factors that shape work-related behaviors so as to inform regulators, service providers, and legislators about practices that can make workplaces and communities safer.
Lower-income Latino communities experience heightened risk for violence and violence exposure, including community violence. Parents and children exposed to such violence on a repetitive basis are more likely to experience depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and difficulties succeeding in school and work. The prevalence of intimate partner violence is a serious concern across Latino populations in the United States. Latino youth are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system at a substantial cost to society. The Latino Center is committed to address risk factors that contribute to the prevalence of violence and protective factors that promote healthy relationships and safety.
New Administrative Home
As of September 2017, the Latino Center for Health is now housed within the Department of Health Services at the University of Washington School of Public Health.
“The Department of Health Services has a foundational commitment to health equity, and our partnership with the Latino Center for Health is integral to that commitment. Latinos constitute 13% of Washingtonians, a proportion that has tripled since 1990. Latinos face increased health risks and barriers to accessing education and health care, especially among those that are lower income. Working with the Latino Center for Health, we are committed to erasing those disparities, and promoting better health for all members of our community,” comments Dr. Jeff Harris, Chair of the Department of Health Services.
“We are thrilled to have the Latino Center for Health housed within the School of Public Health. The Latino Center is a tremendous resource for the entire campus and the communities that we serve. The faculty, staff and students in the LCH are tremendous role models for how to engage authentically and substantively with local communities. The Center’s commitment to social justice and health equity are strongly aligned with the values and priorities of our school.” comments Dr. Hilary Godwin, Dean of the School of Public Health.
Click here to learn more about this recent transition.