Stress Effects on Health of Immigrant and Minority Adolescents and Young Adults

Stress Effects on Health of Immigrant and Minority Adolescents and Young Adults

Maha Albdour

Assistant Professor


Stress Effects on Health of Immigrant and Minority Adolescents and Young Adults

As an advanced public health nurse, I believe that healthy adolescents grow up to be healthy and productive adults. My research is focused on the health of minority and disadvantage adolescents who experience social stressors and how these stressors may affect their physical and psychological health.

Program of Research

My program of research focuses on the effect of psychosocial stress on the mental and physical health of adolescents and young adults, especially among minority populations. Adolescence and young adulthood are two important developmental stages in an individual’s life span and are characterized by physical, mental/emotional, and social changes. Supporting adolescent and young adult health is important because it influences their health in later years. A strong body of research evidence shows that the impact of psychosocial stress (e.g., discrimination, bullying, and adverse childhood experiences [ACEs]) during these developmental stages can be drastic physically and mentally. However, research related to this problem is very limited among immigrant populations in general and Arab Americans in particular. Thus, my program of research addresses significant gaps in the literature related to psychosocial stress, associated factors, impact, and prevention strategies among immigrant adolescents and young adults of Arabic descent.

In preliminary studies, I examined the bullying experience of vulnerable and marginalized adolescents and its effect on their health. I focused on African American and Arab American adolescents in middle and high schools. Then, my program of research moved to examine the individual and combined effect of multiple psychosocial stressors (e.g., bullying, ACEs, discrimination, and acculturative stress) on perceived stress, endocrine function, and health (physical and mental) of Arab American young adults. I have also included parents and investigated psychosocial stress among Arab American parent-child dyads to determine the association and the cross-over effect of psychosocial stressors (e.g., acculturation, racial discrimination, and parent-child conflict), mental health problems (depression symptoms), and physical health (metabolic syndrome) from parents to adolescents and vice versa. My program of research has also evolved to examine and compare medical mistrust among Arab American and African American young adults in relation to their readiness to take care of their health independently. Additionally, in collaboration with Dr. Mark Lumley (WSU psychology department), I implemented an innovative stress reduction intervention known as emotional awareness and expression therapy (EAET) to reverse prediabetes among adults with high risk for prediabetes. This study provided strong evidence supporting the feasibility and the clinical usefulness of using this intervention to reduce stress, enhance a healthy diet, and increase exercise time and frequency, ultimately reducing prediabetes risk.

Current Research

Albdour, M. A. (Co-PI)- Exploration of Medical Mistrust among Ethnic Minority Adolescents and Emerging Adults. Wanda Gibson-Scipio (Co-PI) & Meghna Shukla (Co-I). WSU College of Nursing internal funding. (December 23, 2021)(10,000.00).

Albdour, M. A. (PI) - Examining the Effect of a Novel Stress Reduction Intervention on the Control of Prediabetes: A Feasibility Study. Co-Investigators: M. Lumley, L. Jaber, P. Burghardt Funded by: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Grant (#002893) (September 22, 2020) ($70,000.00).

Albdour, M. A. (PI) - Depression and Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) in Arab-American Parent‐Adolescent Dyads. Co-PI: Ali. Ali. Co-Investigators: S. Zilioli, Funded by: Wayne State University and Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) pilot grant (October 1, 2020) ($40,000.00).

Albdour, M. A. (PI) – “All of Us” NIH Research Program Education. Co-Investigators: Rick S. Zimmerman Funded by: American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)(February 15, 2020- July 25, 2021) (10,000.00).

 Albdour, M. A. (PI) -Cumulative Stress Experiences, Hair Cortisol, and Health of Arab American College Students. Co-Investigators: S. Zilioli, J. S. Hong & M. Lumley. Funded by: American Nurses' Foundation Grants for new investigators (September 1, 2019- September 1, 2020) (10,000.00).

Albdour, M. A. (PI) -Cumulative Stress Experiences, Endocrine Response, and Health of Arab American College Students. Co-Investigators: S. Zilioli, J. S. Hong & M. Lumley. Funded by: Sigma Theta Tau Lambda Chapter Award (March 2019-March 2020) ($2000.00).

Populations of interests

  • Adolescents
  • Young Adults
  • Arab Americans
  • Immigrants
  • Minorities



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