It was learning about the health disparities of Latina women that inspired me to the work that I do today. I especially felt moved to do something about the high rates of depression and suicide. Yet, the psychology articles I read just seemed to focus on the problems and deficits; they didn’t seem to reflect the realities I knew about Latina women and their ability to navigate challenges, and become resilient despite adversity. It is this research niche that my work has strived to fill; my research has a social justice agenda to empower women and communities with data and solutions to achieve equity in health and education.
My research has demonstrated that ethnic minority adolescents find sources of resilience in close family bonds and positive communication, positive ethnic identity, bicultural socialization, neighborhood resources, and civic engagement. These protective factors are associated with less depression, higher self-esteem, more optimism, more physical activity, less drinking, and fewer risky sexual behaviors. While there are many ways to overcome adversity, young people who live in low income neighborhoods and who are from ethnic minority backgrounds are also more likely to face discrimination, bicultural stress, bullying, and neighborhood hazards. In my efforts to find effective, sustainable, and relevant solutions, I work collaboratively with community partners and young people through participatory action research methods to increase physical activity, decrease substance use, and increase civic engagement to affect community and policy change.
My current projects address the following questions.
1. “How can we create community solutions to close the achievement gap for children living in poverty?” “What are the social capital and community cultural wealth strategies that families and children employ to develop successful outcomes for their children’s health, well-being, and education?
2. “How do sociopolitical behaviors develop during late adolescence?” “What are the factors of worldview analysis, agency, and opportunity structure that influence the civic engagement of college students, particularly Mexican American students?”
3. “What protective and risk factors influence the depression and suicide of Latina teens?” “What sources of resilience in family and schools are associated with less depression and optimism among Latina teens?” “What role does bullying and discrimination play in the mental well-being of Latina teens?”
4. “How can we engage high school students to create a college-going culture in their school and afterschool programs?”
- Social psychology
- Community-based health promotion
- Positive youth development
- Bicultural stress
Ethnic identity, discrimination, neighborhoods and families
Dr. Romero has focused her research career on understanding the social and cultural factors that influence adolescent development and adolescent health. She has published several articles that investigate influences on adolescent substance use, risky sexual behavior, physical activity, and mental well-being. Her research findings demonstrate that although discrimination has a negative impact on mental health and risky behaviors, adolescents with a strong ethnic identity seem to fare better. She used theory to create a measure of bicultural stress that several studies have demonstrated is associated with more depressive symptoms, lower self-esteem, and more risky behaviors for White, Asian, and Latino adolescents. Her research on neighborhood safety has debunked conventional assumptions that neighborhood hazards were linked to more obesity and less physical activity among youth. A central element of Dr. Romero’s methodological approach is that of participatory action research, which is done in dialogue and collaboration with community members.
- Principal Investigator, Zona de Promesa: Neighborhood Strategies to close the Achievement Gap, Helios Foundation and Arizona Community Foundation, $70,000.
- Co-Principal Investigator, Telenovela Intervention for Home Care Services, National Institutes of Nursing Research. $224,241. Principal Investigator: Janice Crist.
- Principal Investigator, South Tucson Prevention Coalition. $258,200. Research partners: Michele Orduna, City of South Tucson, John Valenzuela Youth Center, Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation.
- Co-Investigator, Determinants and disparities in high-risk sexual behavior in US adolescents. $147, 277. Research partners: P.I. Dr. Scott Carvajal.
Principal Investigator, 4 Elements Project. NIH grant under review. Research partners: Tucson Unified School District, 4 Elements Team.
- Lifespan Development (FSHD 117)
- Participatory Action Research (FSHD 392)
- Chicano/a psychology (undergraduate) (MAS 280)
Chicana gender perspectives (graduate) (MAS 587)
Here are some recent selected publications by Dr. Romero.
Romero, A.J. (2012) Latin Active: A Pilot Test of the Latin Active Hip Hop Intervention to Increase Physical Activity Among Low-income Mexican American Adolescents. American Journal of Health Promotion. 26(4), 208-211.
Van Campen, K. S., & Romero, A. J. (in press). How are self-efficacy and family involvement associated with less sexual risk-taking among ethnic minority adolescents? Family Relations.
Carvajal, S.C., Rosales, C., Rubio-Goldsmith, R., Sabo, S., Ingram, M., McClelland, J., Redondo, F., Torres, E., Romero, A.J., Ochoa O’Leary, A., Sanchez, Z., & Guernsey de Zapien, J. (2012). The Border Community and Immigration Stress Scale: A preliminary examination of a community responsive measure in two southwest samples. Journal of Immigrant Minority Health.
O'Leary, Anna Ochoa, Andrea J. Romero, Nolan L. Cabrera, and Michelle Rascón.
(2012). Assault on Ethnic Studies. In Santa Ana, O. & Gonzalez de Bustamante, C. (Eds.) Arizona Firestorm: Global Immigration Realities, National Media & Provincial Politics. Lanham, MD and New York: Rowman & Littlefield, pp.97-120.
O’Leary, A. & Romero, A.J. (2011) Undergraduate student’s engagement with Arizona Senate Bill 1108 “Anti-Ethnic Studies”: Influences of civic engagement, ethnic identity on well-being. Aztlan, 36, 9-36.
Romero, A.J. & Van Campen, K. (2011). Bicultural Stress Among Adolescents. In. Levesque, R.J.R. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Adolescence. New York, New York: Springer.
Romero, A.J. & Edwards, L. (2011). Latina Adolescent Resiliency: Positive Effects of Gender, Family, and Culture on Mental Health. In Villaruel, F. & Cabrera, N. (Ed.). Latinos and mental health.
Russell, S. & Romero, A.J. (2011). Sexual Orientation and Identity in Latino/a Youth: Implications for Mental Health. In Villaruel, F. & Cabrera, N. (Ed.). Latinos and mental health.
Romero, A.J. (2008). Orthogonal cultural identification theory. In F.T.L. Leong (Ed.). Encyclopedia of Counseling: Volume Four: Cross Cultural Counseling. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
Edwards, L. & Romero, A.J. (2008) Coping with discrimination among Mexican descent youth. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. 30(1), 24-39.
Romero, A.J., Martínez, D. & Carvajal, S.C. (2007) Bicultural stress and adolescent risk behaviors in a community sample of Latinos and non-Latino European Americans. Ethnicity and Health. 12(5), 443-463.
Romero, A.J. & Carvajal, S.C., Valle, F., Orduña, M. (2007). Adolescent bicultural stress and its impact on mental well-being among Latinos, Asian Americans, and European Americans. Journal of Community Psychology, 35(4), 519-534.
Romero, A.J. & Ruíz, M.G. (2007). Does familism lead to increased parental monitoring?: Protective factors for coping with risky behaviors. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 16, 143-154.
Romero, A.J. (2005). Low-income neighborhood barriers and resources for adolescents’ physical activity. Journal of Adolescent Health, 36(3), 253-259.
Romero, A.J., Robinson, T., Haydel, F., Mendoza, F. & Killen, J.D. (2004). Associations among familism, language preference, and education in Mexican American mothers and their children Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 25(1), 34-40.
Romero, A.J., and Roberts, R.E. (2003). The impact of multiple dimensions of ethnic identity on discrimination and adolescents’ self-esteem. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33(11), 2288-2305.
Romero, A.J. and Roberts, R.E. (2003). Stress within a bicultural context for adolescents of Mexican descent. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. 9(2). 171-184.