186587 Spousal differences in the effects of neighborhood social context on immigrant cultural alienation

Monday, October 27, 2008: 1:30 PM

Arlene Michaels Miller, PhD, RN , College of Nursing, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL
Olga Sorokin, MPH , College of Nursing, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL
Dina Birman, PhD , Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Shannon N. Zenk, PhD , College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Jorgia Briones Connor, PhD(c), RN , College of Nursing, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background: Cultural alienation, a potential risk factor for depression, may be affected by community influences. Neighborhoods and social networks provide the context for immigrant adjustment to life in a new country. Few studies have examined neighborhood social context in relation to post-migration adjustment or considered gender differences. The purpose of this study is to examine neighborhood social context, acculturation, and alienation for immigrant married couples from the former Soviet Union (FSU). Methods: An ecological model of immigrant adaptation guided the study. Questionnaires were mailed to an existing cohort of women and their husbands who had completed a four-year longitudinal study of acculturation and health; mailings were one year apart to reduce spousal influence on responses. Of 230 mailed questionnaires, approximately 80% (n=188) were returned, representing 94 couples. Current addresses were geocoded to block group, which served as a proxy for neighborhood. Data from the 2000 Census showed respondents' neighborhoods included 2-44% non-citizens (indicator for recent immigrants). Self-report instruments assessed sense of community (SOC), social support, acculturation, and alienation. Results: Respondents were aged 46-82; mean age was 63.2 (SD 8.1) for women, and 67.9 (SD 8.3) for men. Mean time in US was 8.42 years (SD 2.20) for women and 9.98 (SD 2.30) for men. Wives' scores for American behavior and Russian identity were significantly higher than their spouses'. There were no differences in scores for other acculturation variables, SOC, social support, or alienation. Regression analyses were run separately for women and men, with demographic variables controlled. For women, higher Russian behavior, and lower American identity, Russian identity, social support, and SOC were significant contributors to alienation. For men, higher Russian Behavior, and lower American Behavior, American identity, SOC, and neighborhood percent non citizens were significant. Models explained 49.5% of the variance in alienation for women and 47.0% for men. Conclusions: Neighborhood social context contributes to alienation in complex ways, and differs for husbands and wives. The local context is more important for men, but social networks, perhaps outside of neighborhood boundaries, are more important for women. Understanding factors that affect alienation can facilitate interventions targeting individuals and communities at risk.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss research findings in which neighborhood contextual factors were found to affect acculturation and mental health for immigrants. Describe similarities and differences in acculturation, sense of community, social support, and alienation between husbands and wives who are recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Keywords: Immigrants, Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am principal investigator on this study of health and health behavior change for immigrants from the Former Soviet Union. My education includes a master's in Public Health Nursing and PhD in Counseling Psychology. I am Head of the Department of Public Health, Mental Health, and Administrative Nursing in my College.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.