Adolfo G. Cuevas, PhD, is a Cancer Prevention Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Cuevas received his doctorate from the Applied Social and Community Psychology program at Portland State University. Dr. Cuevas’ research employs a social and community psychological perspective to address social determinants of health and cancer prevention among African Americans and Latinos/Latinas. He uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand how ecological and psychosocial factors contribute to cancer health disparities.
PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINA/LATINO COMMUNITIES
Dr. Cuevas is primarily interested in the effects of acute and chronic life stressors on physical and psychological health, and in interventions to strengthen health-related resources that are available through people’s neighborhood environments. Currently, Dr. Cuevas is embarking on two projects: 1) Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Seed Grant, he is investigating the interplay between acculturation, multiple psychosocial stressors, and health-risk behaviors among Hispanic/Latino sub-groups using the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos data; 2) He is also investigating the effectf of goal-striving stress on health-risks among Black and White Americans using CARDIA data.
Healthcare disparities persist for African Americans and Latinos/Latinas. Although these disparities have many sources, they result at least in part from patients’ experiences in patient-clinician relationships. Little is known whether disparities in patient-clinician relationships arise from ethnic minority patients being treated differently from European American patients, when they would prefer to be treated the same, versus being treated the same, when they would prefer to be treated differently. Dr. Cuevas uses multiple methods to provide a better understanding of how patients’ race-related attitudes and perspectives affect race-discordant healthcare relationships. For example, he has used qualitative methods to explore narratives of three groups, Latinos/Latinas, African Americans, and European Americans to understand what constitutes a good or bad relationship with clinicians.
As an emerging interest, Dr. Cuevas is attending to important theoretical and methodological issues that manifest when researching Afro-Latinos/Black Hispanics and their health status. Despite intervention and prevention measures, Latinos still suffer a disproportionate burden of certain diseases. This burden may be felt more by Afro-Latinos, who experience unique stressors due to the society’s unequal treatment of people based on race and socioeconomic status. As the understanding of Afro-Latino health continues to build, Dr. Cuevas aims on addressing methodological limitations of prior studies and raise potential new questions for future research.