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A selection of Maria's publications and scholarly work
The Daily Lives of People With HIV
Qualitative Study of the Control group in an Expressive Writing Intervention,
NIH Funded Study (read here)

Emotional disclosure is an expressive writing technique

used in psychotherapy to process traumatic and

stressful life experiences. While emotional disclosure

interventions frequently use control groups, there are

few qualitative analyses of these control groups. Our

study’s purpose was to analyze the control essays

written by HIV-infected informants about their daily

activities in an augmented written emotional disclosure

intervention. Latent and manifest qualitative

content analyses revealed prevalent contextual

themes within the data. The emergent themes were

socioeconomic status (SES), self-care, religiosity/spirituality,

and social support. Emotional disclosure

control subjects contributed substantial findings in

terms of SES, self-care, resiliency, religiosity/spirituality,

and social support and altruism.

"It validates her identity": A mixed methods approach to examining culture, context, and family engagement in an urban afterschool program for Black and Hispanic girls. 

Neighborhood afterschool programs can promote positive future orientation, a protective factor in girls of color at-risk for mental health problems, but little is known about cultural and contextual influences on engagement. The present study examined program-level culture, context, future orientation, and family engagement among 24 girl-caregiver dyads (aged 11-15, 83% Black, 13% Hispanic) in a partnering program. Mediation analyses revealed girls’ perceptions of cultural content was positively associated with girls’ future orientation. Cultural respect was positively associated with girls’ engagement. Caregiver satisfaction was positively associated with caregivers’ future orientation for their adolescent girl. Qualitative analyses elucidated cultural, contextual, gender, and mental health and resilience promotion-related themes associated with engagement. Findings provide support for tailoring programs to minoritized girls’ unique needs.

A 30-Year Systematic Review of Photovoice: Quantifying Representation in Psychiatric Research

This systematic review quantified the demographic representation in psychiatric research with Photovoice, and the degree to which studies complete Photovoice goals. Studies with individuals diagnosed with severe mental illness, internalizing disorders, or substance use disorders in the U.S. were included. Search terms were informed by the DSM-5 and previous research; the search year began with 1992 when the Photovoice methodology was created. Fourteen studies met criteria. Participant social identities (race, ethnicity, economic position, and gender), psychiatric diagnoses, and policy-related action and advocacy steps were documented. Results revealed: (1) schizophrenia spectrum disorders are most represented in Photovoice (33.33%) whereas most substance related and addictive disorders (11.51%), depressive disorders (13.49%), bipolar disorders (8.33%), anxiety disorders (4.76%), and trauma or stressor disorders (3.57%) were less studied and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders were not represented, (2) major U.S. Census-defined racial and ethnic minority groups are nearly, if not entirely, absent, (3) an ethics and social-justice approach to reporting thorough demographic data is lacking, and (4) although just below three-quarters of studies initiate the action and advocacy component of Photovoice to mobilize collective change, what happens next regarding policy outcomes is not well-examined. Results also reveal the emergence of augmented Photovoice (28.5%), which supplemented or integrated Photovoice with behavioral or therapeutic interventions. This study illuminates significant disparities in participant representation, points the field towards a post-Photovoice examination, and provides recommendations for leveraging augmented Photovoice among all three tiers of a public mental health model.

Pancreatic Cancer Survival Analysis,
(read here) 

We found in our secondary data analysis that when

diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, overall survival

was best predicted by observing the stage of the cancer

and the gender of the patient. The later the stage of the

cancer, the higher the hazard rate.  A patient diagnosed

with stage 4 cancer had a hazard rate 4.6 times

a patient diagnosed with stage 1 cancer.  We also found

that males with pancreatic cancer had approximately

a 56% higher hazard rate than females with

pancreatic cancer.  Future research should study

other prognostic factors of pancreatic cancer with

larger sample sizes. The efficacy of treatments should

also be examined.

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