BMC Public Health (Dec 2022)

La vida en la frontera: protocol for a prospective study exploring stress and health resiliencies among Mexican-origin individuals living in a US-Mexico border community

  • Karina R. Duenas,
  • Maia Ingram,
  • Rebecca M. Crocker,
  • Thaddeus W. W. Pace,
  • Jill Guernsey de Zapien,
  • Emma Torres,
  • Scott C. Carvajal

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 1
pp. 1 – 10


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Abstract Background Mexican-origin adults living near the U.S.-Mexico border experience unique and pervasive social and ecological stressors, including poverty, perceived discrimination, and environmental hazards, potentially contributing to the high burden of chronic disease. However, there is also evidence that residents in high-density Mexican-origin neighborhoods exhibit lower prevalence rates of disease and related mortality than those living in other areas. Understanding the factors that contribute to health resiliencies at the community scale is essential to informing the effective design of health promotion strategies. Methods La Vida en la Frontera is a mixed-methods participatory study linking a multi-disciplinary University of Arizona research team with Campesinos Sin Fronteras, a community-based organization founded by community health workers in San Luis, Arizona. This paper describes the current protocol for aims 2 and 3 of this multi-faceted investigation. In aim 2 a cohort of N≈300 will be recruited using door-to-door sampling of neighborhoods in San Luis and Somerton, AZ. Participants will be surveyed and undergo biomarker assessments for indicators of health and chronic stress at three time points across a year length. A subset of this cohort will be invited to participate in aim 3 where they will be interviewed to further understand mechanisms of resilience and wellbeing. Discussion This study examines objective and subjective mechanisms of the relationship between stress and health in an ecologically diverse rural community over an extended timeframe and illuminates health disparities affecting residents of this medically underserved community. Findings from this investigation directly impact the participants and community through deepening our understanding of the linkages between individual and community level stress and chronic disease risk. This innovative study utilizes a comprehensive methodology to investigate pathways of stress and chronic disease risk present at individual and community levels. We address multiple public health issues including chronic disease and mental illness risk, health related disparities among Mexican-origin people, and health protective mechanisms and behaviors.