A randomized control trial to test peer support group approach for reducing social isolation and depression among female Mexican immigrants


Background: Female Mexican Immigrants (FMIs) experience high rates of depression compared with other populations. For this population, depression is often exacerbated by social isolation associated with the experience of immigration. Aim 1. To measure whether a culturally situated peer group intervention will reduce depression and stress associated with the experience of immigration. Aim 2. To test whether an intervention using a “women’s funds of knowledge” approach results in improved resilience, knowledge and empowerment. Aim 3. To investigate whether a culturally situated peer group intervention using a women’s funds of knowledge approach can give participants a sense and experience of social and physical connection (“emplacement”) that is lost in the process of immigration. Methods: This mixed-methods study will implement “Tertulias” (“conversational gatherings” in Spanish), a peer support group intervention designed to improve health outcomes for FMI participants in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We will document results of the intervention on our primary hypotheses of a decrease in depression, and increases in resilience and social support, as well as on our secondary hypotheses of decreased stress (including testing of hair cortisol as a biomarker for chronic stress), and an increase in social connectedness and positive assessment of knowledge and empowerment. Discussion: This project will address mental health disparities in an underserved population that experiences high rates of social isolation. Successful completion of this project will demonstrate that health challenges that may appear too complex and too hard to address can be using a multi-level, holistic approach. Our use of hair samples to test for the 3-month average levels of systemic cortisol will contribute to the literature on an emerging biomarker for analyzing chronic stress.


Relevant Evidence Summaries

The evidence was reviewed and included in the following summaries: 

What is the impact of peer support groups on refugees’ mental health?

Multiple sources of strong evidence indicates that peer support groups can improve newcomer mental health symptoms. Three systematic reviews, as well as four additional studies, demonstrate positive outcomes from peer support groups in various newcomer populations. Such groups appear to provide a unique benefit to both participants and newcomer leaders in enhancing social connections, expanding […]

About this study

AGE: Adults


GENDER: Female

HOST COUNTRY: United States

POPULATION: Immigrants



TYPE OF STUDY: Suggestive evidence