Acculturation, Stress, and Adolescent Health.

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary/Abstract Population surveillance data indicate disparities in many outcomes for Hispanic youth. The past several decades have witnessed a burgeoning interest in the role of cultural factors in Hispanic youth development, with a focus on the cultural challenges these youth face. Indeed, in the US, Hispanic youth ? 70% if whom are from immigrant families ? are faced with the challenge of acculturation ? the process by which youth retain their cultural heritage and/or adopt the new receiving culture. This process may not only be stressful in itself, but may also be exacerbated by the long-standing political rhetoric characterizing Hispanic immigrants as criminals and as a drain on the country. Increasingly anti-Hispanic and xenophobic attitudes in the United States have created an increasingly hostile environment for Hispanic immigrants. This hostility helps to create culturally stressful experiences. A growing literature has examined whether such cultural stress influences various developmental outcomes, using a range of instruments to measure various facets of cultural stress. However, no existing scale is comprehensive enough to assess the nuances of cultural stressors faced by Hispanic youth. The scientific premise of the proposed study is to provide a more comprehensive and rigorous measure of cultural stress. Towards this end, we will pursue the following specific aims: 1) Conduct qualitative focus groups with Hispanic youth from two major metropolitan areas of the US (Miami and Los Angeles) and use content analysis to lay the foundation for a new culturally grounded and psychometrically refined cultural stress assessment; 2) Assess the reliability of the new multidimensional instrument using Exploratory Factor (EFA) and Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) techniques and assess measurement invariance across age, gender, site, and immigration status using multi-group CFA techniques; 3) Evaluate the extent to which cultural stress is uniquely different from other forms of stress (i.e., normative, economic, neighborhood, and family stress) and test the predictive validity of cultural stress with youth outcomes (delinquency, aggression, depressive symptoms, drug and alcohol use, and well-being); and 4) establish diagnostic cut-off values for the cultural stress measure. Our approach is innovative for several reasons. First, we use samples drawn from two distinct immigration gateway communities, ensuring we capture heterogeneity in terms both of acculturative experiences and nationality, immigration status, and demographic composition. Second, we use focus-groups to ?unpack? cultural stress to provide a more dynamic perspective of Hispanic youths' lives, with greater detail on what they consider ?stressful? given their own struggles and challenges. Third, we establish divergent and convergent validity vis-à-vis normative, economic, neighborhood, and family stress to test whether the developed instrument is empirically distinct from other stressors. Our proposed research is significant because it lays the groundwork for a comprehensive operationalization of cultural stress that is empirically distinct from other sources of stress. This is a necessary first step toward understanding the impact of cultural stress on Hispanic youth and toward identifying intervention mechanisms and targets.
Effective start/end date5/1/184/30/20


  • National Institutes of Health: $279,179.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $171,365.00


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