Researchers are investigating how the COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to increased substance use and growing mental health concerns among Hispanic adolescents.
With funding from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, FIU psychologists Elisa Trucco and Matthew Sutherland are looking to find what factors are contributing to vaping and e-cigarette use among Hispanic youth in Miami-Dade County.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that individuals identifying as Hispanics are approximately 2.8 times more likely to contract COVID-19 and 4.6 times more likely to be hospitalized due to virus-related complications.
“Given the unanticipated, sudden, and sustained disruption due to COVID-19, youth are faced with growing uncertainties, new sources of anxiety, and added burdens related to daily routines and schooling, all within the backdrop of family and personal health concerns,” Trucco said. “The impact of these emergent and protracted COVID-19 stressors on youth mental health and substance use are unknown, particularly among health disparity populations who may be experiencing greater disruptions.”
Trucco and Sutherland, both researchers at the FIU Center for Children and Families are recruiting participants from the Antecedents and Consequences of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ACE) Project, an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate the effects of e-cigarettes, vaping devices and other electronic nicotine delivery systems on adolescents. Both adolescents and caretakers will be asked to complete a series of online questionnaires regarding their COVID experiences, substance use, mental health and resilience.
“Gaining a greater understanding of the impact that COVID-19 experiences may have on substance use and mental health among Hispanic adolescents living in Miami-Dade could inform interventions or policies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on this vulnerable group,” Sutherland said.
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