What is the goal of the HCHS/SOL?
The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) is the most comprehensive study of Hispanic/Latino health and disease in the United States. The primary goals of the HCHS/SOL are to describe: (1) the prevalence of selected chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions, including heart disease, stroke, asthma, COPD, sleep disorders; (2) the risk and/or protective factors associated with these conditions; and (3) the relationship between the initial health profiles and future health events in a cohort of Hispanics and Latinos from diverse heritage groups living in the United States.
The first contract period of the HCHS/SOL (2006-2013), during which the initial exam was performed, was co-funded by the NHLBI, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the National Institute on Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. The current contract period (2013-2018) is co-funded by the NHLBI and NIDDK. To date, the HCHS/SOL has collected data on a wide variety of conditions, including heart disease, stroke, asthma, COPD, sleep disorders, dental disease, hearing disorders, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and cognitive function.
- The HCHS/SOL is the most comprehensive long-term study of health and disease in Hispanics and Latinos living in the United States.
- The study enrolled over 16,000 Hispanic and Latino adults from four U.S. communities.
- Study data will pave the way for future research into possible causes of health disparities among Hispanic and Latino communities.
What are the key findings from the HCHS/SOL?
The HCHS/SOL study found a comparable or higher burden of cardiovascular disease risk among all major U.S. Hispanic and Latino groups, compared to non-Hispanic whites living in the United States. Additionally, study data showed considerable differences among Hispanics of various backgrounds. It has been shown that 71 percent of Hispanic and Latina women and 80 percent of Hispanic and Latino men have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Other findings from the study include:
- The highest percentage of current smokers were of Puerto Rican background, followed by those of Cuban background.
- The overall prevalence of high blood pressure in HCHS/SOL participants was slightly lower than rates in non-Hispanic whites, yet young men with high blood pressure were much less aware of their high blood pressure. Of those young men who were aware of their condition, less than half were getting treatment or controlling their blood pressure under control.
- Probable diabetes mellitus is highly prevalent among U.S. Hispanics/Latinos and highest among Mexican, Central American, and South American groups. Almost 40 percent of those that met laboratory diagnostic criteria for diabetes mellitus were not aware of having the disease.
- The percentages of participants with undesirable cholesterol levels were highest among Central American men and Puerto Rican women.
- Among Hispanics/Latinos under age 65, high percentages reported not having health insurance, with differences among those living in urban areas ranging from 28 percent in the Bronx to 71 percent in Miami.
The study findings have allowed researchers to provide a baseline for describing and understanding the health of contemporary U.S. Hispanic and Latino populations. In 2013, researchers released a report to the study’s participating communities that summarized their research. Currently, researchers are genetic data from approximately 13,000 participants in the HCHS/SOL study are being analyzed by genetic epidemiology working groups and investigators from collaborating consortia. The NHLBI continues to leverage HCHS/SOL data and specimens to spur new scientific discovery. We invite researchers to utilize the valuable resources that have been collected since the study began in 2006. Learn more about utilizing HCHS/SOL resources through the study website and through NHLBI’s Biologic Specimen and Data Repository Information Coordinating Center (BioLINCC).
How is the HCHS/SOL conducted?
The study recruited over 16,000 Hispanic and Latino adults and included those with family roots in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Participants have been followed at four centers affiliated with San Diego State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx area of New York, and the University of Miami. A research Coordinating Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill has provided additional scientific and logistical support.
Between 2008 and 2011, participants aged 18 to 74 years underwent initial exams and assessments to determine what risk factors they had at the start of the study. Annual follow-up interviews have been conducted since 2009 to assess selected health outcomes. During the second study phase, which started in 2013 and will end in 2018, study participants are undergoing a second exam and will continue the annual follow-up interviews. In the meantime, study findings are being analyzed, and publication of the results in scientific journals, and their dissemination to the communities involved in the study, continues. Also, planning for a possible third cohort examination has begun.
As director of the HCHS/SOL, Larissa Avilés-Santa is leading efforts to gather critical data on the health of Hispanic and Latino people—the largest minority group in the United States. She hopes the study will ultimately lead to strategies that can minimize the underlying causes of chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes that often burden this community, opportunities for innovative prevention research, and the enhancement of the careers of early stage investigators interested in Hispanic health, and those of Hispanic background.