HCHS/SOL Project

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GGG_m&o_countryHispanic Community Health Study/ Study of Latinos

The study aims to understand the risks to health faced by Hispanics and Latinos in the U.S.


Hispanics and Latinos are already the largest minority group in the U.S. and are projected to become the main American ethnic group by around 2050.  They are a remarkably diverse group in terms of ancestry, culture and socioeconomic status, originating from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and many countries in Central and South America. It is important to understand the health risks and health care access problems Hispanics and Latinos face in order to design interventions to reduce their disease risk and improve their health outcomes.

The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) – the largest study of its kind in the U.S. – is a multi-center study of over 16,000 Hispanics/Latinos aged 18-74 living in the Bronx, Chicago, Miami, and San Diego.  Coordinated by the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center (CSCC), within the Department of Biostatistics in the Gillings School, the study will determine prevalence and risk factors for cardiovascular, pulmonary and other chronic diseases for Hispanics/Latinos. It will also identify the role of behavioral, environmental and sociocultural factors in protecting or harming the health of this group, and how acculturation affects their health.  Since cultural and ancestral backgrounds vary widely in the sampled population, researchers will gain new insights into the ways in which health reflects communities that are alike and different. Read More

National data suggests that U.S. Hispanic populations overall have lower mortality rates from heart disease compared to non-Hispanics, but have increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes. Hispanics also thought to have a lower incidence of all types of cancer than blacks or whites, and are less likely to die of cancer. Interaction of lifestyles in the places of origin and U.S. culture – such as nutrition, smoking, and the role of family and community – could affect these patterns and influence the development of diseases.

The study is collecting extensive information from participants including personal and family health, acculturation, language and food preferences, pulmonary functioning, physical activity, diet, sleep, occupation, cognitive functioning, and physical health status.  A re-examination of the HCHS/SOL cohort is scheduled for 2014-2017.

The study will answer important questions, such as:

  • Who is at high risk for cardiovascular disease?
  • Who is most at risk for diabetes?  Among those who have diabetes, are they aware of their condition and is it under control?
  • Is high blood pressure adequately treated and controlled?
  • Who is most at risk for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?
  • Which groups are most likely to become problem drinkers? Which groups are most likely to smoke?
  • How likely are different groups to eat a healthy diet, engage in regular physical activity, and maintain a healthy weight?
  • In which ages, genders and communities is depression symptoms most prevalent?

Results are shared with communities involved in the study to promote health action at the local level. The project actively promotes the career development of young Hispanic/Latino scientists and facilitates scientific and health care collaborations to improve Hispanic/Latino health.

The study will contribute to the Gillings School’s mission of overcoming health disparities and promoting health equity, a major focus since the School was founded in 1939.

Project Team

  • Jianwen Cai (Principal Investigator)
  • Gerardo Heiss
  • Sonia Davis
  • Daniela Sotres-Alvarez
  • Ashely Henderson
  • Laura Loehr
  • Kari North
  • Krista Perreira
  • Wayne Rosamond
  • Anna Maria Siega-Riz
  • Alison Stuebe
  • Marston Youngblood
  • Donglin Zeng


Sponsored by: NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Total funding: $22,000,000


  • University of Miami
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Northwestern University
  • San Diego State University

In The News

UNC awarded $22 million to coordinate Hispanic Community Health Study