SC Clinical & Translational Science Institute, Office of Community Engagement 


News You Can Use!





Volume 1, Issue 7                                                                                                                                     June 2012

In This Issue 

What else is the CTSI doing for DMH and the mental health community? 


Who are the Mental Health Scholars?


These and other questions will be answered in the

future editions

of ...



News you can use!


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2010 CTSI pilot: "Uncovering Opportunities for Prevention and Early Intervention among Older Minority Groups in Disadvantaged L.A. Neighborhoods - Pilot Study." 


This issue of MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH: News You Can Use!features William A. Vega, PhD, one of the SC CTIS Office of Community Engagement's Advisory Board Members. In December 2010, Dr. Vega along with co-PI Karen D. Lincoln, MSW, MA, PhD, and co-investigator Donald A. Lloyd, PhD, were awarded a CTSI pilot study grant for a project titled: "Uncovering Opportunities for Prevention and Early Intervention among Older Minority Groups in Disadvantaged L.A. Neighborhoods - Pilot Study." Additional funding for the project was provided by the USC School of Social Work's Frances G. and Ernest P. Larson Endowed Fund for Innovative Research.



Dr. Vega is currently Provost Professor and Executive Director of the Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging at the USC School of Social Work. He is an expert in health, mental health and substance abuse, particularly among Latinos, older adults and children, and holds USC appointments in social work, preventive medicine, psychiatry and family medicine. Dr. Vega is also emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley and co-directs the Network for Multicultural Research on Health and Healthcare at UCLA. An elected member of the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Vega has conducted community and clinical research projects on health, mental health and substance abuse throughout the United States and Latin America. His specialty is multi-cultural epidemiologic and services research with adolescents and adults -- work that has been funded by multiple public and private sources. He has published more than 170 articles and chapters, in addition to several books. The 2006 ISI Web of Science listed him in the top half of 1 percent of the most highly cited researchers worldwide in social science literature over the past 20 years.












Karen D. Lincoln is currently Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging at the USC School of Social Work. As a researcher, Dr. Lincoln grapples with issues that are locally, nationally and internationally meaningful. Her research lies in improving clinical and community-based treatment of persons with mental health disorders and chronic health conditions and is supported by a number of different agencies within the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Mental Health. The goal of her research is to identify intervention points and strategies for limiting the further deterioration of health and mental health of Black Americans by examining social determinants. To that end, she has presented in several national and international conferences and her work includes over 40 publications in 25 peer-reviewed journals including Social Work, Social Science and Medicine, Journal of Health and Social Behavior and Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.


Vincent Lim, Editor/Writer for the USC Roybal Institute, provided the following brief summary of findings from their study for our e-newsletter:


In the wake of the recent economic crisis, a research team at the Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging at the USC School of Social Work conducted a community survey last year to determine the current health status and living conditions of older Latinos and African Americans living in East and South Los Angeles. The USC Roybal Institute recently published a report of findings from the survey (see links below), which revealed signs of hope that indicate both personal resourcefulness and opportunities for service agencies to help improve the health of older adults and facilitate successful aging in place in East and South Los Angeles.


Studies have shown that support networks are critical to the physical and mental well being of older adults. Older adults in the survey who reported that they lived with others and had support networks had generally better physical health and mental health than those who lived alone. Yet even among the over 50% of those surveyed who reported living alone, more than half indicated that they "have contact with family or relatives nearly every day." "We found that a considerable number of seniors are living alone but managed to maintain regular contact with family and friends-a critical factor in sustaining independent living," says the USC Roybal Institute's Executive Director William A. Vega, who was the co-principal investigator of the community-based research survey.


The report unfortunately also revealed many health challenges facing Latino and African Americans in certain areas of Los Angeles County. Among other findings, researchers discovered that there were higher rates of serious psychological distress among those surveyed compared to Latinos and African Americans in the same age group in L.A. County. "Overall, seniors in our survey reported higher psychological distress and worse health as compared to rates derived from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)," Vega says. CHIS is the nation's largest state health survey that provides a detailed picture of the health and healthcare needs of California's diverse population. The prevalence of serious psychological distress among older Latinos and older African Americans in the USC Roybal Institute survey was significantly greater than the prevalence among African Americans and Latinos aged 60 and older in the CHIS sample for L.A. County. The general health reported by older Latino participants in the USC Roybal Institute survey was also more likely to be "fair" or "poor" compared to older Latino participants for Los Angeles County and for the State of California in the CHIS data.


Though the statistical results from the survey are not intended to be representative of the complex demographics of South L.A. and East L.A., the USC Roybal Institute hopes that the report will help to inform decision and policy making of community stakeholders, elected officials and leaders of aging and health service-providing organizations. "While this is a relatively small study, up-to-date and reliable information about seniors is important because it informs health and social services agencies charged with implementing existing programs and planning new ones," Vega says.


Full report of their CTSI pilot report.


Spanish-language version of CTSI pilot report.


Submitted by Holly Kiger, RN, MN, CNS, Research Navigator, SC CTSI, Community Engagement