Community Members + Researchers = Increased Latino Well-Being


Latinx coalition in indiana
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Uniting the Latino community together with university researchers will—in theory—increase the well-being of this at-risk population.

That’s the idea behind the new Latinx Community-University Research Coalition of Indiana.

Latinx coalition in indiana
From left, Latinx Community-University Research Coalition founding members Cindy Gil, Silvia Garcia, Khaula Murtadha, Silvia Bigatti and Monica Medina, and student assistants Michelle Ramirez and Jocelyne Hernandez (via IUPUI)

The coalition seeks to bring together Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) faculty and staff, policy leaders, and community leaders to promote research and programmatic collaborations that are respectful of the needs, cultural identity and interests of the Latino population while removing barriers, according to a news release.

Indiana’s Latino population has grown from 1.8% in 1990 to 3.5% in 2000, to 6.0% in 2010. The number already had increased further to 6.7% by 2015.

“We are all interested in increasing research collaborations with community partners focused on Latino health,” said Silvia Bigatti, a native of Argentina who is an associate professor in clinical psychology in the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI. “And because quality education leads to more health, we call it quality of life and well-being.”

How The Coalition Started

Bigatti and another professor began talking about the concept a few years ago.

They eventually looped the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement and other university higher-ups. They held their first conference in April.

Their next conference is set for March 27, 2018.

“We’re hoping that Latinx not only facilitates and increases research with the community, but actually attracts Latino faculty—who are more likely to do research with Latinos—to the campus,” Bigatti said.

“Latino faculty attract Latino students, and Latino students attract Latino staff, so if we get the ball rolling, it’s going to increase this population and its presence at IUPUI.”

“Then it kind of starts all over again—they do research with the community, which attracts more faculty, and then we have a vibrant and diverse community of researchers that’s connected to the community outside of the campus, doing work that impacts the community immediately.”

Why This Coalition Is Needed

Are you a Latino in Indiana (or across the United States)?

You face much higher risk of disease—higher rates of obesity, diabetes, HIV, stroke, certain cancers, and other conditions—than non-Latinos, according to research.

“Addressing health disparities is urgent given the rising Latino population,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio, the team behind Salud America!.

“About 1 in 6 people today are Latino with an expected rise to 1 in 4 in 2035 and 1 in 3 in 2060.”

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of all Latinos are homeowners. That's far fewer than Whites (72%).

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