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2005 Grant - Shurgot
Sociocultural Influences on the Health of Latino Dementia Caregivers
Gia Robinson Shurgot, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
2005 New Investigator Research Grant
Caring for people with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia can result in a high level of stress. In turn, chronic stress activates cortisol, a hormone which, when oversecreted, can cause heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Studies have shown that Latino caregivers use more stress-coping strategies than do their Caucasian counterparts. However, Latinos are generally at greater risk for developing these illnesses, and few studies have examined how chronic stress affect their health.
Gia Robinson Shurgot, Ph.D., and colleagues will examine how sociocultural influences affect the ability of Latinos to deal with stress while caring for family members with dementia. The researchers will examine whether such factors as cultural assimilation, family loyalty issues and coping styles affect cortisol levels in Latinos caring for people with dementia. The investigators will determine which factors put caregivers at greater risk for psychological and physiological stress. They plan to recruit Latino caregivers and interview them in their homes to evaluate demographics, stress and coping styles. They will also obtain salivary samples to measure cortisol levels.
Findings from this study may help investigators assess relationships between caregiving stress and changes in cortisol levels, which will in turn help determine the psychological and physical health needs of Latinos caring for family members with dementia. The researchers will use this information to develop future programs that address the health needs and improve the quality of life for caregivers in the Latino community.