Irina Todorova Biography

Irina Todorova

Clinical Professor Department of Applied Psychology Bouvé College of Health Science


[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Immigration and health
Inequities in women’s health
The social construction of women’s reproductive health
Health inequities among ethnic groups and through the life course


Todorova is a clinical professor in the Department of Applied Psychology, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University. She is a health psychologist and works on the psychological and social aspects of health, well-being and health inequalities. Her research interests include social change and implications for health and health equity, migration and health, reproductive health and reproductive technologies, experiences of health and illness, and qualitative/narrative health psychology. Recently, Todorova was PI of the International study “Stories of life during a pandemic”, which is a study in 15 languages, of how people are making sense of the Covid-19 pandemic and their visions for the future. Previously, she was Clinical Associate Professor at the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities (NIH Center of Excellence) at Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University.

Todorova was President of the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) and is now Fellow of this society. As recent Editor of the journal Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine and on the editorial board for Health Psychology Review; Psychology & Health she is contributing to promoting a critical perspective in health psychology and research. She has been guest editor of several special issues, most recently the Special Section on “Women’s Reproductive Health in a Cultural Context”, in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine (2017). With co-authors she is the recipient of the Virginia and Warren Stone book prize for Suárez-Orozco, C., Suárez-Orozco, M. & Todorova, I. (2008). Learning a New Land: The Experience of Newcomer Immigrant Youth. Harvard University Press.

Project Description

Todorova is currently part of an EU Horizons 2020 project which aims to reduce inequality in cervical cancer incidence by improving cervical cancer screening (CCS) among underserved groups. It is a 5-year project (2021-2026) with 14 partners in 10 EU countries. Todorova focuses on women living in Eastern Europe where the incidence is unacceptably high – for example Bulgaria has one of the highest incidence and mortality rates from cervical cancer among European countries while Romania historically has had the highest cervical cancer incidence rate in the EU.

Thus, cervical cancer screening is an issue of health and reproductive justice – the inequities among women in prevalence and mortality are avoidable since they are situated in socioeconomic inequities, systemic barriers to access to screening and early treatment, and gender hierarchies. Cervical cancer is entwined in gendered discourses regarding appropriate sexual behavior, promiscuity, blame and judgement particularly of women. The project is informed by a participatory epistemology and methodology of co-creation, employing qualitative and quantitative methods.

Publications – Past Three Years

Suárez-Orozco, C., Todorova, I., & Louie, J. (2002). Making up for lost time: The experience of separations and reunifications among immigrant families. Family Process, 41(4), 625-643. DOI: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2002.00625.x

Todorova, I., Baban, A., Balbanova, D., Panayotova, Y., & Bradley, J. (2006). Providers’ construction of women’s role in cervical cancer screening in Eastern Europe. Social Science and Medicine, 63(3), 776-787.

Todorova, I., & Kotzeva, T. (2006). Contextual shifts in Bulgarian women’s identity in the face of infertility. Psychology & Health, 21(1), 123-141.

Suárez-Orozco, C., Suárez-Orozco, M., & Todorova, I. (2008). Learning a New Land: The Experience of Newcomer Immigrant Youth: Harvard University Press.

Todorova, I., Baban, A., Alexandrova, A., & Bradley, J. (2009). Inequalities in cervical cancer screening in Eastern Europe: Perspectives from Bulgaria and Romania. International Journal of Public Health, 54, 222-232.

Panayotova, Y., & Todorova, I. (2009). Cultural meanings of the infertility treatment procedures and new reproductive technologies: Women’s voices from Bulgaria. In D. Birenbaum-Carmeli & M. C. Inhorn (Eds.), Assisting Reproduction, Testing Genes: Global Encounters with New Biotechnologies: Berghahn Books.

Todorova, I., Lincoln, A. K., Falcón, L. M., & Price, L. (2010). Perceived discrimination, psychological distress and health. Sociology of Health and Illness, 32(6), 843-861. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2010.01257.x

Todorova, I., Tucker, K. L., Jimenez, M. P., Lincoln, A. K., Arevalo, S., & Falcón, L. M. (2013). Determinants of self-rated health and the role of acculturation: implications for health inequalities. Ethnicity & Health, 18(6), 563-585. DOI: 10.1080/13557858.2013.771147

Todorova, I., Alexandrova-Karamanova, A., Panayotova, Y., & Dimitrova, E. (2014). Organizational hierarchies in Bulgarian hospitals and perceptions of justice. British Journal of Health Psychology, 19(1), 204-218. doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12008

Todorova, I., Alexandrova-Karamanova, A., Panayotova, Y., Dimitrova, E., & Kotzeva, T. (2014). Managing Uncertainty: Healthcare Professionals’ Meanings Regarding the HPV Vaccine. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 21(1), 29-36. doi: 10.1007/s12529-013-9343-9

Todorova, I. (2014). Introduction to the special section: cross-cultural beliefs, attitudes, and dilemmas about vaccination. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 21(1), 1-2. doi: 10.1007/s12529-013-9383-1

Todorova, I., Guzzardo, M. T., Adams, W. E., & Falcón, L. M. (2015). Gratitude and longing: Meanings of health in aging for Puerto Rican adults in the mainland. Journal of Health Psychology, 20(12), 1602-1612. doi: 10.1177/1359105313519155

Guzzardo, M. T., Adams, W. E., Todorova, I. L., & Falcón, L. M. (2016 ). Resonating sentiments on Puerto Rican identity through poetry: Voices of the diaspora Qualitative Inquiry, 22(5). doi: DOI: 10.1177/1077800415622485

Guzzardo, M. T., Todorova, I. L. G., Adams, W. E., & Falcón, L. M. (2016). “Half here, half there”: Dialogical selves among older Puerto Ricans of the diaspora. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 29(1), 51-65. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12240

Todorova, I., Turner, H., Castaneda-Sceppa, C., Young, D., & Bonner, A. (2016). “I do it with love”: Engagement in caring for people with dementia Global Qualitative Nursing Research, 3, 1-14. doi: 10.1177/2333393616668634

Guzzardo, M. T., Adams, W. E., Todorova, I. L. G., & Falcon, L. M. (2017). Harmonizing beliefs with realities: Social support among older Puerto Ricans with disabilities. Sage Open; Special issue on Ethnogerontology. April-June, 1-13.

Benyamini, Y., & Todorova, I. (2017). Women’s Reproductive Health in Sociocultural Context. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 24(6), 799-802. doi: 10.1007/s12529-017-9695-7

Craciun, C., Todorova, I., & Baban, A. (2018). “Taking responsibility for my health”: Health system barriers and women’s attitudes toward cervical cancer screening in Romania and Bulgaria. Journal of Health Psychology

Guzzardo, M. T., Todorova, I. L. G., Engelman, A., Polidoro Lima, M., Dean-Olmsted, E., & Guzzardo Tamargo, R. E. (2021). Reflexivity and humility evoke a transformable methodology in a post disaster context. Health Psychol Behav Med, 9(1), 1-24.

Lee, C. S., O’Connor, B. M., Todorova, I., Nicholls, M. E., & Colby, S. M. (2021). Structural racism and reflections from Latinx heavy drinkers: Impact on mental health and alcohol use. J Subst Abuse Treat, 127, 108352.

Todorova, I., Albers, L., Aronson, N., Baban, A., Benyamini, Y., Cipolletta, S., …. & Zlatarska, A. (2021). “What I thought was so important isn’t really that important”: international perspectives on making meaning during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Psychol Behav Med, 9(1), 830-857.

Tomaino, S. C. M., Cipolletta, S., Kostova, Z., & Todorova, I. (2021). Stories of Life during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Italy: A Qualitative Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 18(14).

Vollmann, M., Todorova, I., Salewski, C., & Neter, E. (2023). Stresses of COVID-19 and Expectations for the Future Among Women: A Cross Cultural Analysis According to the Femininity/Masculinity Dimension. Cross-Cultural Research On-line First.