UNDERSTANDING AND ADDRESSING DISPARITIES IN PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH: INSIGHTS FROM PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE
Dr. Rivera edited the 2014 Special Issue of the Journal of Social Issues on the topic of health disparities. To learn more about this issue, click here. (SPSSI members will need to sign in to the SPSSI website and then navigate over to the journal's webpage on the SPSSI website in order to access the full papers.)
On March 6, 2017, SPSSI hosted a Congressional Seminar on the topic of health disparities featuring SPSSI member Dr. Luis Rivera. The event was attended by more than 70 professionals from a variety of offices and organizations, including House and Senate personal offices, House committees, federal agencies, associations, and nonprofits.
Why did SPSSI choose to highlight research on health disparities in a policy setting? The presence of diverse groups in the United States is a source of national pride. However, this cultural sentiment is overshadowed by the reality that some groups carry a disproportionate burden of negative physical and mental health outcomes. Race, ethnicity, immigrant status, disability, sexuality, gender, socio-economic status, and geographical residence are all associated with health disparities in the United States.
During this Congressional Seminar, Dr. Rivera provided an overview of what we know about both physical health disparities (e.g., rates of overweight and obesity, hypertension) and mental health disparities (e.g., rates of depression and psychological distress) in the United States, and why they exist and persist. Drawing from his own research focusing on Hispanic and African Americans, Dr. Rivera also discussed how health disparities manifest within both children and adults, in part because of implicit biases, and the implications of this research for health policy.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Luis M. Rivera, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Principal Investigator of the Rutgers Implicit Social Cognition (RISC) Laboratory at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark. He earned his Ph.D. in experimental social psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2006. His research focuses on the implicit social cognitive processes that underlie the expression of stereotyped attitudes and how these processes and attitudes affect stigmatized individuals’ self-concept, identity, and health. He has authored or coauthored articles in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Journal of Social Issues, and Social Cognition. His health disparities research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about his research, please visit the website of the Rutgers Implicit Social Cognition Laboratory.