240691 Acculturation stress and mental health among Latina immigrants

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 10:45 AM

Blanca M. Ramos, PhD , School of Social Welfare, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY
Bonnie Carlson, PhD , Arizona State University, School of Social Work, Phoenix, AZ
Blanca Angelica Gonzalez, RN, MPH , School of Public Health, University at Albany, Rensselaer, NY
Public health social workers and other healthcare professionals increasingly provide services to Latina immigrants, a historically underserved population experiencing grave healthcare disparities. Culturally responsive services require greater understanding of psychosocial factors that may negatively affect their mental health, including acculturation stress. Latina immigrants experience myriad stressors associated with the acculturation process, which entails adjustments in person-environment fit. Despite the wealth of assets and strengths they bring, the multiple cultural differences and oppressive conditions they face may thwart their ability to cope effectively. We hypothesize that acculturation stress negatively affects the mental health and self-esteem of Latina immigrants.

This study used a cross-sectional research design to examine the relationship between acculturation stress and mental health in a sample (N=106) of community-dwelling Latina immigrants. Participants were recruited through referrals, flyers, churches, and community advocates. Most participants were of Mexican descent (76.4%), ages <35 (70.8%), low education (55.7% no high school degree), and income (49.1% <$0,000 per year). When given the option to complete a face-to-face interview in English or Spanish, 92.8% chose Spanish.

Logistic regression analyses indicate significant positive associations between acculturation stress and depression (.286), anxiety (.189), and nervous attack (.434). Acculturation stress was negatively associated with self-esteem (-.513). The findings underscore the need to identify risk and protective factors associated with acculturation stress, including coping preferences, when providing services to Latina immigrants. Further research in this line of inquiry is warranted. Advocacy framing immigrants' health needs as a social justice issue to mobilize political action is sorely needed.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the acculturation process among Latina immigrants as adjustments in person-environment fit. 2. Identify the potential negative consequences of acculturation stress on the mental health of Latina immigrants. 3. List and describe specific stressors associated with the acculturation process Latina immigrants may experience. 4. Articulate culturally responsive coping strategies that could help Latina immigrants prevent and respond effectively to acculturation stressors before and after their onset.

Keywords: Stress, Latino Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have actively participated on the conceptualization and implementation of this research.
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.