Who We Are
Mariana Sanchez

Mariana Sanchez

Associate Professor, Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, Research Associate, Center for Research on US Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse (CRUSADA), Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, Florida International University

Abstract: Alcohol Use Trajectories Among Latino Immigrants During Their First Decade in the U.S.

The Recent Latino Immigrant Study is the first prospective community-based cohort study to examine the pre- to post-immigration alcohol use trajectories among young adult recent Latino immigrants (RLIs) across a 12-year span. With over 30 publications examining substance use and mental health among RLIs, this research has contributed widely to the knowledge base in this important area of investigation. Study findings have advanced our current understanding of alcohol use trajectories among RLIs in the U.S. A key contribution of this research has been in the identification of how pre-immigration experiences impact alcohol use, immigration stress, and its related consequences in this population. The escalation of alcohol use among Latino immigrants as their time in the U.S. increases is well documented. However, prior to this work, little was known about the alcohol use patterns of Latino immigrants before arriving in the U.S. Our research team’s longitudinal studies have collected retrospective pre-immigration data on two cohorts of young adult RLIs during their first year in the U.S. with subsequent waves documenting post-immigration behaviors and experiences over time. Rather than indicating typical patterns of increased alcohol use, this research has revealed that pre- to post-immigration alcohol use patterns are more complex with decreases in alcohol use during the initial years in the U.S. and subsequent increases back to pre-immigration levels over one decade. Collectively, this line of research has fundamentally advanced knowledge regarding sociocultural determinants that precede and perpetuate alcohol use and its related consequences among RLIs as they acculturate to the United States.


Dr. Sanchez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a Research Associate at the Center for Research on U.S. Latino HIV/AIDS and Drug Abuse (CRUSADA) in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University (FIU). Her program of research seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural risk and protective factors that influence health behaviors, particularly substance use, and its related consequences among Latinx populations. The bulk of her research has focused on examining how sociocultural determinants impact mental health and substance use among vulnerable Latino/a subgroups including recent immigrants, unauthorized immigrants, and farmworkers. Over the past decade, she has had continuous NIH funding that has provided her the opportunity to be involved in various longitudinal, community-based studies on socio-cultural determinants of pre- to post-immigration alcohol use trajectories among young adult recent Latino/a immigrants. To date, she has authored over 85 articles in peer-reviewed journals that have focused primarily on how cultural mechanisms influence alcohol use, sexual risk, and mental health among diverse Latino/a immigrant populations. Ultimately, Dr. Sanchez aspires that knowledge gained from her research informs the development of culturally relevant evidence-based interventions that target identified vulnerability factors and leverage key protective factors in preventing substance misuse and its related consequences among Latino/a immigrants and other underrepresented populations.

Dr. Sanchez also serves as a co-investigator on the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD Study®). The ABCD study is a groundbreaking investigation funded by multiple Institutes of the National Institutes of Health that examines the biological and behavioral trajectories of more than 11,000 children across 21 sites, beginning at ages 9-10 through adolescence into early adulthood. In this capacity, she serves on the national ABCD Study® Culture and Environment Work Group and provides guidance on cultural determinants of health among youth.

Dr. Sanchez is also the Program Director for FIU’s Health Disparities Initiative (FIU-HDI). The goal of the FIU-HDI is to diversify the scientific workforce and train the next generation of public health, clinical, biomedical, and behavioral researchers at FIU to address health disparities in communicable and noncommunicable health conditions—and advance health equity—among underserved populations in South Florida and the Caribbean.