New Website / الموقع جديد

IT'S TIME!! DETAILS ON OUR NEW WEBSITE COMING SOON!!

*The ideas and opinions expressed here do not represent the University of Southern California, the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, or any research funding agency.

The First Ever Handbook of Minority Aging is Here!

 

Dr. Abdou and her colleagues are thrilled to announce the release of the first ever Handbook of Minority Aging.

**Check out the new HEALTHY PEOPLE STUDY in Arabic, English, or Spanish** Get a $10 Amazon gift card delivered right to your inbox for 30 minutes of your time!! We ALWAYS protect your privacy. Your answers to our research questions are confidential, anonymous, and help us to better understand how to be a healthier America and a healthier world. *The ideas and opinions expressed here do not represent the University of Southern California, the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, or any research funding agency.

More New Research!

Dr. Abdou and her colleagues discuss the Environmental Affordances Model, a new approach to discussing health disparities, in their recently published article. 

Check out the full Society and Mental Health article here.

Abstract
Crucial advances have been made in our knowledge of the social determinants of health and health behaviors.  Existing research on health disparities, however, generally fails to address a known paradox in the literature: While blacks have higher risk of medical morbidity relative to non-Hispanic whites, black have lower rates of common stress-related forms of psychopathology such as major depression and anxiety disorders.  In this article we propose a new theoretical approach, the Environmental Affordances Model, as an integrative framework for the origins of both physical and mental health disparities.  We highlight early empirical support and a growing body of experimental animal and human research on self-regulatory health behaviors and stress coping that is consistent with the proposed framework.  We conclude that transdisciplinary approaches, such as the Environmental Affordances Model, are needed to understand the origins of group-based disparities to implement effective solutions to racial and ethnic inequalities in physical and mental health.


**Check out the new HEALTHY PEOPLE STUDY in Arabic, English, or Spanish** Get a $10 Amazon gift card delivered right to your inbox for 30 minutes of your time!! We ALWAYS protect your privacy. Your answers to our research questions are confidential, anonymous, and help us to better understand how to be a healthier America and a healthier world. *The ideas and opinions expressed here do not represent the University of Southern California, the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, or any research funding agency.




New Website / الموقع جديد

 

NEW WEBSITE LAUNCH 2014!!



**Check out the new HEALTHY PEOPLE STUDY in Arabic, English, or Spanish** Get a $10 Amazon gift card delivered right to your inbox for 30 minutes of your time!! We ALWAYS protect your privacy. Your answers to our research questions are confidential, anonymous, and help us to better understand how to be a healthier America and a healthier world. *The ideas and opinions expressed here do not represent the University of Southern California, the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, or any research funding agency.

نتائج البحوث الجديدة / New Research Findings Hot Off the Presses!!



Baby's Health is Tied to Mother's Value for Family



The value that an expectant mother places on family -- regardless of the reality of her own family situation -- predicts the birthweight of her baby and whether the child will develop asthma symptoms three years later, according to new research from USC.


Continue reading Science Daily article here...


Also, check out the original journal article by Dr. Abdou and her colleagues published in Social Science & Medicine here.


Abstract
There are marked ethnic and socioeconomic differences in birthweight and childhood asthma, conditions which may be linked causally or via a third variable. Cultural resources are often credited with diminished health disparities in infancy and childhood among subsets of poor and minority populations; yet direct empirical tests of this hypothesis are needed. In this study, ethnicity, lifespan family socioeconomic position (FSEP), and the cultural resource of familism were compared as predictors of birthweight and expression of asthma symptoms (AE) by age three. Familism and lifespan FSEP were assessed in 4633 socioeconomically disadvantaged African Americans, White Americans, and Latinas upon giving birth, as was offspring birthweight. AE was assessed in offspring through age three. Asthma diagnosis by age three was likelier in very low (≤1500 g) and low (≤2500 g) birthweight infants compared to infants born at average (2501–3999 g) or larger (≥4000 g) birthweights. Asthma risk associated with lower birthweight was higher for Latinos (17–35%) and African Americans (19–23%) than for White Americans (13–14%). As predicted, maternal familism was higher among White Americans than among African Americans and Latinas, an effect that was largely driven by ethnic disparities in lifespan FSEP. Familism predicted continuous birthweight (p = .003) and AE (p = .001) by age three independently of ethnicity and lifespan FSEP accounting for appropriate control variables, including maternal biomedical risk, maternal acculturation, parental marital status, and infant sex. There was a 71-g gain in birthweight for every one-unit increase in familism. The protective effect of familism on AE by age three was strongest for participants of lower lifespan FSEP. Maternal familism is one cultural resource that may reduce reproductive and intergenerational health disparities in both U.S.- and foreign-born Americans. Consistent with our previous work, familism and other nonmaterial resources covary with material resources. Nevertheless, culture is distinguishable from lifespan FSEP and ethnicity, and has health implications beyond associations to ethnicity, lifespan FSEP, and related biomedical and sociodemographic factors.

Highlights
► Forward-thinking in integrating diverse literature on culture, health disparities, and the links between birthweight and childhood asthma. ► Measuring a specific aspect of culture, familism, pushes the operational definition of culture beyond ethnicity and socioeconomic status. ► Considers the unique and combined impact of culture, ethnicity, and family socioeconomic position on birthweight and childhood asthma symptoms. ► Familism predicts birthweight and the development of asthma symptoms by age three independently of ethnicity and family socioeconomic position. ► Offers novel insights into the severe health disparities faced by African American, Latino, and poor families.


**Check out the new HEALTHY PEOPLE STUDY in Arabic, English, or Spanish** Get a $10 Amazon gift card delivered right to your inbox for 30 minutes of your time!! We ALWAYS protect your privacy. Your answers to our research questions are confidential, anonymous, and help us to better understand how to be a healthier America and a healthier world. *The ideas and opinions expressed here do not represent the University of Southern California, the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, or any research funding agency.

Independence: It Hurts; But It Hurts Fine

I love warm weather because it makes me feel free. So, of course, I celebrate the coming of Spring.

I love Spring because I love the heat, and I love Spring because I love my freedom even more than I love the heat. And, this year, Spring is even more special because it brings me the gift of motherhood, el humdu'lillah (thank you, God).

In fact, the only thing in this world that I cherish more than my freedom is my family. No way in hell could you convince me to trade my freedom for all the riches, giftedness, or beauty in the world. (It is true, nevertheless, that these things help to secure freedom in just about every society. But that is for another day.)

I am an identical twin. It is a sweet and mind-blowing thing to share your birthday with someone who looks so similar to you that even you don't always know who's who in the baby pictures. One of the greatest gifts of my life came through my twin sister, Nefertiti, 16.5 years ago: her son, Takaya. Growing up with Takaya gave me wisdom so far beyond my years, including the awareness of how awesome the human capacity for love is.

Takaya also, long ago, gave me the insight for reconciling the beauty and the hardship of independence: "It hurts; But it hurts fine."

Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual freedom are fundamental human needs. Still, there are ways in which independence implies separation, being wahidah ('one'; 'alone'; and perhaps sometimes even 'lonely'). I figured out early in life that I would gladly take the hardship of independence in exchange for its beauty.

By the time Takaya reached his first birthday, we were on a first-name basis with the Emergency Room staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Not because he was sickly, el humdu'lillah, but because we were young and head over heels in love. We wanted so badly to take good care of this child, and our way of ensuring that we did that was to run to the emergency room every time something so much as looked like it was beginning to go wrong.

And that's not all. It pains me to admit it, but we visited Takaya's pediatrician's office so frequently that the pediatrician would scream, "The kid is fine; Get the hell out of here!", as soon as he saw us walking into his office. Literally. He was a great pediatrician, but not the most conventional one. He was a middle-aged, chain-smoking Cubano with a hilarious, fun-to-pronounce last name straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Even baby Takaya, who broke out into a toothy grin so big that it made his eyes squint every time he said it, seemed to be aware of the humor in his pediatrician's name. When Takaya reached his standard three-year-old well baby check-up, his pediatrician put his hand out and said, "Give me five for surviving. Mommy and tia ('aunt' in Spanish) need a sedative, but you're doing just fine, kid."

Okay, Dr. Kucalootoo was right. We were already starting to see that pretty clearly by that point. As Takaya's 17th year approaches, doctors have long become a last resort. What changed, you wonder? Nothing. And everything. Takaya got bigger. We got older. More importantly, we got wiser. We learned to trust ourselves. We stopped needing to go to the emergency room for reassurance that the fever would pass. We knew it would. We knew to just keep Takaya as comfortable as possible until it did.






Most of the emergency room visits were ear infection-related. At 18 months old, Takaya woke up at 2am crying, rubbing his ear, and diagnosing himself with an "ear fafection". His mom and I stood there distressed over seeing him in pain, discussing whether we should make yet another visit to the emergency room or wait the six hours until morning to visit Dr. Kucalootoo. We were dreading another expensive, uncomfortable night in the chilly emergency room. Not only did those nights spent in the emergency room put us behind in money, but they also put us behind in school work and even farther behind than we already were in sleep.

On this particular night, Takaya showed us how much he already trusted himself. He watched his mom and I discussing what to do, and he cut into our deliberation with one of the most profound statements I have ever heard. With so much certainty in his voice, 18-month-old Takaya nodded his head reassuringly and said: "It hurts; But it hurts fine. I can wait."

Five years later, while living in Egypt, I remembered baby Takaya's words as I struggled to make peace with independence, both with the independence that I had become accustomed to in America (so big that I felt lost at times), and the lack of independence that I faced while in Egypt (so small that I felt suffocated nearly all the time). Remembering that even when independence hurts, "it hurts fine" put everything into perspective for me. And it made me laughwhich, of course, always makes everything a million times better.

Freedom hurts at times, but it hurts fine. Just like love. Just like life.


*The ideas and opinions expressed here do not represent the University of Southern California, the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, or any research funding agency.

In the News / في الأخبار

 

Dr. Cleopatra Abdou and a Healthy Egypt were featured in the University of Southern California news!!


Revolutionary Blogger
By Marissa DeCoteau

The sight of a woman completely shrouded in a niqab, waiting patiently at the airport, enthralled USC Davis School of Gerontology assistant professor Cleopatra Abdou during her recent trip to Egypt.
“Does anyone ever smile at her, I thought, trying to put myself into her shoes,” she would later write. “[I imagined] what it would be like to live in a world where no one ever acknowledges or affirms your existence. I decided that I would smile at her.”

Drawing on her unique perspective as an Egyptian-American, her professional expertise and her lifelong passion for writing, Abdou decided to create Healthy Egypt, a blog that examines how a changing Egypt affects the health and well-being of its people, especially the factors that caused its younger population to become change agents, a phenomenon that opened up a new area of research for her.

“How these young adults were able to emerge as change agents at this particular time in history is something that intrigues me – something that I hope to be able to explore with this new work,” she said. “Egypt has changed a lot in the last decade and will continue to do so – it will be interesting to see what the role of younger generations will be versus the role of older generations and how the relationships between them will change over time.”

The changing role of women in the Middle East also continues to fascinate Abdou, especially in terms of healthy aging and the interconnectedness of generations past, present and future.
“There are so many rich questions to ask about these connections, especially as we move in the direction of interdisciplinary research and integrative, holistic approaches to understanding health, well-being and aging,” she said. “When you’re examining these kinds of questions, it seems natural to think about individuals within the context of families, within the context of societies and within the context of the world.”

Using her blog as an incubator for new ideas, explorations and analyses of multiple global health issues, Abdou also has found a renewed energy and creativity to her own research.
“I am continuing my work on the health implications of stereotype threat and the ability of cultural and other nonmaterial resources to reduce health disparities among minorities and African- and Latino-origin immigrants living in America. I’m also very focused on expanding my work to new populations and contexts within the U.S. and globally,” she said, “particularly among Egyptians and other Arabs living in America and the Middle East. I want to evaluate how changing environments – social, political, economic, religious and otherwise – interact with other forms of social stress, social status and ethnic, racial and family identities to affect health and well-being at the individual and population levels.”

Drawing on the mobilizing power of the Internet, her strength as an interdisciplinary scientist and thinker and, most of all, the power of ideas, of words and of intelligent voices speaking out to understand and improve the human situation for people around the world, Abdou’s most sincere hope is that her work will both inform and empower.

“It is one thing if the woman from the airport is invisible to the outside world by choice, but it is another thing entirely if she has no choice. A healthy Egypt, and a healthy world, are dependent upon equal chances, dignity and choice for all people,” she wrote on her blog. “This means that no one – no group – can be invisible. Even those who, by choice, cover their hair, faces, bodies, hands, feet or any other part of themselves cannot be invisible when it comes to their inherent value as human beings.”


**Check out the new HEALTHY PEOPLE STUDY in Arabic, English, or Spanish** Get a $10 Amazon gift card delivered right to your inbox for 30 minutes of your time!! We ALWAYS protect your privacy. Your answers to our research questions are confidential, anonymous, and help us to better understand how to be a healthier America and a healthier world. *The ideas and opinions expressed here do not represent the University of Southern California, the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, or any research funding agency.