Mental Health Benefits of Familism: How eating dinner together regularly is associated with better mental health among low-income Latino families in East Los Angeles
Methods: As part of a multilevel lifestyle intervention study designed to promote adherence to the DGA among low-income Latinos living in East Los Angeles, we collected baseline data from 175 adults free of diabetes and heart disease (157 women; 18 men). Mean age = 42.7±11.25 years; 61.7% had less than high school education; 95.8% spoke Spanish at home. Depressiveness/anxiety scale derived from 5 mental health items in the SF-12 (reliability=.79). Familism scale derived from 9 items about family relations (reliability=.92).
Results: Including age and sex as covariates, depressiveness/anxiety was inversely related to frequency of family meals (p=.004), with 5 or more times per week being optimal. Familism correlated positively with frequency of family meals (p=.0001) and negatively with depressiveness/anxiety (p=.001). Mediation analysis indicated that familism contributed significantly to reduced depressiveness and may explain why family meal frequency correlated inversely with depressive symptomatology.
Discussion: Results comply with the following logic model: frequency of family members eating dinner together contributes to increased familism, which contributes to reduced depressive symptomatology. Causal inferences await analysis of longitudinal data.
Learning Areas:Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Explain the importance of familism as a cultural value for low-income Latinos; Describe the empirical correlates of families eating family meals together regularly; Explain how decreased depressive symptoms and more focus on family support can help Latinos adhere better to federal nutrition recommendations.
Keyword(s): Depression, Family Involvement
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Most of my career has been leading intervention studies working with minority groups and underserved populations. My PhD is in Psychology from Yale University and I co-direct the Center for Population Health & Health Disparities focusing on multilevel approaches to reducing cardiovascular disease risk in East LA. As a professor at UCLA in the department of Psychology and department of health policy and management, I have published extensively on the psychosocial dynamics that affect health.
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.