Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Nina Mulia, DrPH, MPH

Nina Mulia, DrPH, is a scientist at PHI's Alcohol Research Group (ARG). She is principal investigator of a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)-funded study examining racial/ethnic disparities in access to appropriate alcohol treatment services and is co-director of the ARG National Alcohol Research Center's Component on Race/Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Disparities in Alcohol Problems.

Although her research has spanned various areas, including community-based HIV prevention with drug users, health and social services access, substance abuse in minority and immigrant populations, and women in poverty, Mulia's ongoing interest is in the effects of social and economic disadvantage on health and well-being. Her most recent work examines disparities in alcohol treatment access and outcomes, interactive effects of neighborhood- and individual-level socioeconomic status on harmful drinking patterns, and differential impacts of the economic recession on alcohol problems in the general population.

Mulia received her bachelor's degree from the Johns Hopkins University, her master's in public health policy and administration from the University of Michigan, and her doctorate in community health sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. She joined ARG through the organization's NIAAA-funded postdoctoral fellowship program.

Disparities in Alcohol Problems

This National Alcohol Research Center project investigates how race/ethnicity and socioeconomic disadvantage are related to current and lifespan patterns of alcohol use and problems. Critical gaps in knowledge will be addressed, with a special focus on how a severe economic recession may exacerbate drinking problems in already disadvantaged groups. Findings will help to inform efforts to reduce alcohol-related disparities by identifying particularly acute forms of disadvantage, protective factors that mitigate their impact, and high-priority populations that need to be reached during an economic recession.   

Effects of Disadvantage and Protective Resources on Alcohol-Related Disparities

The primary objective of this study is to describe and explain racial disparities in both heavy drinking and alcohol problems at equivalent levels of consumption. The conceptual approach recognizes that racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. are differentially exposed to economic, social and neighborhood disadvantages, and draws on recent theoretical work suggesting that cumulative exposure to disadvantage may play a significant role in understanding health disparities.

Racial Disparities in Access to Appropriate Alcohol Treatment Services

This study strives to identify gaps in the delivery of appropriate alcohol treatment services to racial/ethnic minority populations, and to better understand how disparities in access to appropriate care impact these groups' chances for recovery from alcohol problems. The project is based on secondary analyses of NIAAA's National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

Understanding Racial Disparities in Heavy Drinking Over the Life Course

This study will describe racial disparities in prolonged heavy drinking and persistent alcohol problems in a nationally representative sample of Americans followed from adolescence to middle age. The study will identify lifecourse socioeconomic factors that increase risk for these adverse alcohol outcomes, and assess the extent to which racial disparities in these outcomes are explained by differential exposure to, and consequences of, these risk factors.  Study results will help to inform interventions targeted to different periods of the lifecourse, which can help to reduce racial alcohol-related disparities.