The Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC), a NIMHD Exploratory Center of Excellence, aims to address knowledge gaps, through community-based prevention intervention studies, on the role of social determinants of health-including cultural processes-as factors in the creation, reduction and elimination of health disparities with a focus on the ethnic minority populations of the Southwest and the U.S.-Mexico border region, concentrating on protective cultural processes. SIRC's array of activities and research projects will examine cultural processes, both those that enhance health promotion and those that generate health risks leading to health disparities in the unique social and cultural context of the U.S.-Mexico border region. The scientific knowledge and the innovative interventions generated through these proposed research activities will promote minority health and reduce health disparities. As an NIMHD Exploratory Center of Excellence, SIRC supports a shift in focus moving beyond diagnosis and treatment and away from singularly focusing on proximal causes of morbidity and mortality (i.e., individually based risk factors such as lifestyle behaviors and coping styles) and toward a multilevel, eco-developmental social determinants approach. Drawing from this perspective, SIRC aims to advance research on social determinants of health by including but also moving beyond the proximal causes of risk and protective behaviors to consider how factors such as the family, community, and culture influence adolescent health behaviors. Through our intensive dissemination, community-based participatory research, assessment, and evaluation efforts, SIRC's research will continue to inform policies, programs, and interventions, as demonstrated throughout our application.
Because of our expertise on the cultural processes associated with health outcomes, the development and adaptation of culturally grounded prevention interventions, and the multilevel focus of integrating the family into adolescent prevention interventions, SIRC is uniquely qualified to examine relationships between sociocultural processes and health disparities within racial/ethnic minority populations of the Southwest and to provide community-based solutions for preventing, reducing and eliminating health disparities.
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