A Biopsychosocial Framework to Examine Risk for Type 2 Diabetes in Asian Pacific Islander Immigrants

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Res Theory Nurs Pract. 2021 Feb 1;35(1):82-96. doi: 10.1891/RTNP-D-19-00132.


There is large disparity in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes (T2D) for Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs), one of the fastest growing minority populations in the United States. It is critical to examine biopsychosocial pathways and vulnerability factors that intensify risk for T2D in API. Increasing evidence links chronic stress to poor health outcomes and accelerated development and progression of diseases of aging, such as diabetes. Immigrant populations face unique life stressors, including the challenges associated with the process of adapting to a new environment, new language, and cultural differences. In addition, immigrants experience high levels of psychological distress related to changes of identity and values, loss of support, discrimination, and disempowerment. The purpose of this article is to propose a biopsychosocial framework to explicate potential mechanistic pathways that link cumulative life stress to risk for T2D in the API immigrant population. Unique to the proposed framework is the emphasis on inflammatory processes and accelerated cellular aging (telomere biology). A deeper understanding of biopsychosocial pathways can lead to tailored and targeted interventions to reduce the incidence of T2D in the API immigrant population.

PMID:33632924 | DOI:10.1891/RTNP-D-19-00132