U.S. Immigration Climate and Mental Health Outcomes of Latinx Immigrants (2020-2021)

This project team examined the impact of the U.S. sociopolitical climate from 2018 to 2020 on the mental and physical health outcomes of Latinx immigrants in the United States. Using data from the SER (Salud/Health, Estres/Stress, y Resiliencia/Resiliency) Hispano Study (R01MD012249; PI: Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda), a longitudinal study of health among 391 young adult Latinx immigrants in North Carolina, team members explored how the documentation status of Latinx young adult immigrants impacted their levels of stress and resiliency, as well as self-reported physical health.

The team divided into three subgroups to investigate unique research questions:

  1. The Resiliency Team found that there was a negative relationship between acculturative stress and resiliency among all Latinx immigrants in the SER Hispano study. Furthermore, they discovered that undocumented Latinx immigrants experienced higher levels of acculturative stress and also more resiliency than their documented counterparts.
  2. The Mental Health Team explored sub-types of acculturative stress experienced by participants in the SER Hispano study. They found that acculturative stress clustered in three sub-types: High acculturative stress, high parental and marital acculturative stress only, and low acculturative stress. Individuals who were undocumented were more likely to be in the high acculturative stress group, while those who had higher income, educational attainment, and English language use were in the low acculturative stress group.
  3. The Physical Health Team explored potential mediators of the relationship between documentation status and physical health outcomes. They found that documented individuals reported better self-reported physical health than their undocumented counterparts. This relationship was explained by both immigration stress (i.e. stress related to lacking lawful status in the US) and healthcare stress (i.e. stress related to lacking access to affordable healthcare).

This project demonstrated that documentation status is an important social driver of health for Latinx immigrants with consequences for acculturative stress, resiliency and self-reported physical health. Results also highlight the heterogeneity of the Latinx population and reinforce the importance of systems and organizations seeking to understand the variety of experiences and barriers that immigrant populations may face to inform programming. Additionally, health in immigrant communities can be promoted through advocating for more inclusive immigration policies. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic limited opportunities for the team to present findings, team members shared their research at two virtual conferences in 2021, including the Access for Immigrants Conference (Duke University School of Nursing) and the 42nd Annual Minority Health Conference (UNC Minority Student Caucus). Additionally, the team has three manuscripts describing these findings in progress to be submitted to peer reviewed journals.


Spring 2020 – Fall 2020

Team Outputs

Allison McCord Stafford, Aneri Tanna, Karina Moreno Bueno, Gabriela A. Nagy, Irene Crabtree Felsman, Scott de Marchi, Rushina Cholera, Kate Evans, Eliazar Posada, Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda. 2022. Documentation Status and Self-Rated Physical Health Among Latinx Young Adult Immigrants: the Mediating Roles of Immigration and Healthcare Stress. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

How Sociopolitical Climate Impacts Latinx Immigrants (2021 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Acculturative Stress, Resiliency and the Health of Latinx Immigrants in the Current U.S. Sociopolitical Climate (poster by Allison McCord Stafford, Gabriela Nagy, Irene Felsman, Anna Holleman, Paulina Ruiz, Aasha Hendersn, Karina Moreno Bueno, Aneri Tanna and Guadalupe Tarango-Garcia)

Peer-reviewed publications (in progress)

Presentation at Access for Immigrants Conference (Duke University School of Nursing)

Presentation at Minority Health Conference (UNC Minority Student Caucus)

This Team in the News

Two Graduate Students Honored for Their Outstanding Mentorship

Faculty Perspectives: Gabriela Nagy

Immigration Projects Explore Biometrics, Mental Health and Deportation Issues

Duke Law Faculty, Students Tackling Diverse Interdisciplinary Research Projects through Bass Connections

Immigration word cloud.

Team Leaders

  • Irene Felsman, School of Nursing
  • Gabriela Nagy Carrasquel, School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Allison Stafford, School of Nursing

/graduate Team Members

  • Anna Holleman, Sociology-PHD, Sociology-AM

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Aasha Henderson, Sociology (AB)
  • Karina Moreno Bueno, Biology (BS)
  • Aneri Tanna, Cultural Anthropology (AB)
  • Guadalupe Tarango-Garcia, Psychology (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Rushina Cholera, School of Medicine-Pediatrics: Primary Care Pediatrics
  • Scott De Marchi, Arts & Sciences-Political Science
  • Katherine Evans, Duke Law
  • Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda, School of Nursing

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Eliazar Posada, El Centro Hispano