What factors allow individuals, families, communities, and societies to be positive outliers; that is, to be healthy, happy, and successful against the odds? This is the question at the heart of Dr. Abdou’s global health and human flourishing research program.
Dr. Abdou’s interdisciplinary research highlights cultural and psychosocial resources which promote flourishing and buffer stress. She investigates how these effects are reflected in the body, brain, and behavior to improve mental and physical health during critical lifespan developmental phases, including pregnancy and early childhood, thereby reducing social status-based health disparities within the U.S. and health inequity globally. Dr. Abdou currently pursues two lines of inquiry in her global health and human flourishing research: 1) Maternal-child-family/intergenerational health as a function of socioecological change, as in rapid political change and migration and 2) Health care-related stereotype threat. Alongside her collaborator, Dr. Adam Fingherhut, Dr. Abdou was the first to develop experimental methods to examine stereotype threat—a threat to important aspects of the self, including ethnic and gender identity—as a social barrier that contributes to different patterns in health care decision-making and utilization among different populations. As a product of these two intersecting lines of research, Dr. Abdou developed the Culture and Social Identity Health Theory.
Dr. Abdou’s work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Michigan Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities, and is published in scientific journals in psychology, public health, and medicine. Dr. Abdou is engaged in multiple international collaborations, including with the American University in Cairo.