Health Research Program

Health Research Program

Partnering with the best in health and education

We partner with the leading health and educational institutions to explore and study problems that concern our culture the most.

We have collaborated with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine to teach the South Asian community how to make important dietary changes, engage in an active lifestyle, reduce stress, and lose weight to reduce or prevent their chances of stroke and/or heart attacks We also partner with the Asian Health Coalition on two projects.

The first is the Pink Pashmina project which offers free breast cancer screenings and mammograms to South Asian woman. The second is to provide our community with free screening and testing for Hepatitis B.

The ongoing program’s objective is to enable seniors to break mental and societal barriers regarding mental health; develop the ability to acknowledge symptoms and take professional help in overcoming issues like depression.  The program aims to steer their lives in a more positive direction during these pandemic times.

Awareness sessions: MAFS brought on board leading psychiatrists- Dr. Shastri Swaminathan, Dr. Viji Susarla and Dr. Tapan Parikh to conduct talk sessions on mental health via zoom. These sessions were very valuable in spreading awareness about common mental health problems, their symptoms, and importance of seeking professional help.

Mental health screening:   MAFS has collaborated with Dr. Viji Susarla to conduct a basic mental health screening/testing for depression and anxiety amongst seniors. The tool used are questionnaires translated in Hindi and Gujarati for easy comprehension and accuracy of responses. Based on the assessment results, MAFS will recommend resources to the needy clients for further consultation and treatment.
South Asians are underrepresented in heart disease prevention research even though they have a very high risk compared to other ethnic groups in the U.S. The primary research goal of the study is to understand the best ways to lower heart disease risk in South Asians. MAFS has been a partner with Northwestern University with this heart health study, SAHELI, to help raise awareness of CVD, and to improve cardiovascular health among the South Asian Population living in the U.S. since 2012. MAFS has collaborated with NU on various other health research studies since 2005. Persons who are between the ages of 18 to 65 interested in the study are tested initially, after six and twelve months for A1c, Lipid including Total Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides. A screening for BMI, BP, and anthropometry for the cuff, waist, and hip are done as well. After the screening is conducted, they are counseled for their readings as to what is normal and borderline range, and if they are at high risk. The intervention group attend 16 health education and exercise classes, and 4 booster classes which are optional. On the other hand, health education material is sent to the control group at their homes. Most participants experience success with their own CVD goals such as Weight Reduction, BP, Cholesterol, and/or Sugar. So far 175 participants have benefited and experienced a positive difference in their overall health as well from this exceptional research study conducted at MAFS. This year alone we had 93 participants actively enrolled in SAHELI at MAFS and the numbers are growing as South Asian population is becoming more aware of their heart health. For enrollment and further information, please call our Chicago office at 773-465-3105. The long-term goal of this research is to determine if a culturally targeted, primary prevention lifestyle intervention provided to South Asian immigrants in a community-based setting is sustainable as far as physical activity which entails cardiovascular and resistance training, healthy dietary behaviors, stress management techniques; thus, achieving the ultimate outcome of preventing and delaying heart disease.
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A Multilevel Physical Activity Intervention for South Asian Women and Girls The confluence of immigration, culture, and gender create distinct barriers to physical activity 16-WEEK INTERVENTION 160 South Asian mothers with sedentary lifestyles and daughters approximately (11-16 years of age) dyads were recruited starting April 2019 at MAFS. It will be conducted via a 2-arm randomized design, a 16-week intervention with Dyadic counseling, peer discussion groups, group exercise, and family walking groups, in comparison with a wait-list control which will receive brief education. Mothers’ point-of-care will be A1c and may be lipid profile as well as BMI, BP, and anthropometry, and daughters point-of-care will be BMI and BP with a maximum of 4 assessments with reimbursement of gift cards. Outcomes expected: walking/running and sedentary time; CVD risk factors in mothers (improvement in waist circumference, weight, blood pressure, hemoglobin A1c, lipids).Learn More
Research Study, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
Starting January 2021, MAFS will be partnering with the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign on a research study. The goal is to understand the role that family caregivers of older South Asian immigrants may have as “sociocultural navigators” with the health care system, including their experiences, challenges, and concerns. We will recruit participants and the research findings will identify the issues and needs of family caregivers of the older immigrants our organization serves. It may also positively impact the policies and practices around health care delivery for older immigrants for whom effective care may require the participation of family caregivers.

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