Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Butch de Castro

Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, School of Nursing
University of Washington
Tel: 206-543-4436
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Butch de Castro’s research focuses on how occupational-related factors influence the health of immigrant and minority worker populations. Specifically, his interest is in investigating how work and employment stressors experienced in the context of migration operate as social determinants of health and contribute to health disparities. The theoretical underpinnings for his research are the “healthy immigrant effect” and “immigrant paradox” hypotheses; the prevailing view being that immigrants (when they enter the US) are generally healthier than their US-born counterparts, though this health advantage declines with increased duration in the US. In the last five years he has published in this area in the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Journal, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, and Public Health Nursing. He is Co-Investigator (with Dr. Gilbert Gee, UCLA School of Public Health) for a current NCI-funded R21 pilot longitudinal study that investigates obesity risk among immigrants. This transnational research project follows a cohort of immigrants from the Philippines to the US from a pre-migration baseline to up to 1 year post-migration, as well as a comparison non-migrant group. Stressors associated with the immigrant experience (i.e., racial/ethnic discrimination, neighborhood residence, employment transitions, and social support) are being studied in terms of their influence on changes in dietary practices, physical activity, and overall risk of obesity. He also recently received notice of funding from CDC-NIOSH for another R21 project that will assess agricultural-related occupational health and safety risks among Hmong farmers. The project will utilize novel methods including participatory rural appraisal and photovoice, in addition to conventional industrial hygiene observational exposure assessments. Another line of his research involves collaborating with labor unions, primarily those representing immigrant/minority workers such as those employed in the hotel, grocery, and food service industries. He currently has an R01 proposal submitted to NIMHD under review that will utilize a mixed-methods approach to examine differential exposures to occupational hazards based on nativity and minority status among this worker population.