'They don't look at what affects us': The role of ecodevelopmental factors on alcohol and drug use among Latinos with physical disabilities

David Cordova, Jose Ruben Parra-Cardona, Adrian Blow, Deborah J. Johnson, Guillermo Prado, Hiram E. Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Objectives. Latinos with disabilities disproportionately report substance use, including binge drinking and drug use. Ecodevelopmental factors, including socioeconomic patterning of poverty, social exclusion, and post-colonial racism, have been shown to impact alcohol and drug use. However, this line of research remains underdeveloped among Latinos with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to obtain rich descriptions of the role of ecodevelopmental factors, including family and community, on alcohol and drug use among Latinos with physical disabilities. Methods. We utilized a community-based participatory research design, in conjunction with an innovative methodology referred to as photovoice. Three rounds of photography and focus group interviews were conducted with a total of 17 focus groups. Reflections in each focus group interview were aloud and digitally audiotaped. A total of 28 participants 19-35 years of age (mean age = 27.65, SD = 5.48) participated in each round of photography and focus group interviews. Data analyses followed the tenets of descriptive phenomenology. Results. Findings highlight ecodevelopmental family and community risk and protective factors. At the family level, participants reflected on the ways in which family functioning, including family support, communication, and cohesion, can serve as risk and promotive factors for alcohol and drug use. Additionally, participants described in detail how experiences of poverty, stigma and discrimination, violence, accessibility to alcohol and drugs, accessibility for persons with disabilities, transportation, community support and cohesion, and access to health and mental health services constitute risk and promotive factors at the community level. Conclusion. Findings are suggestive of how ecodevelopmental family and community factors might increase the risk of alcohol and drug use among Latinos with physical disabilities. From this qualitative research, we derive a series of testable hypotheses. For example, future studies should examine the impact of family functioning on alcohol and drug use among Latinos with physical disabilities over time. Study findings may have great utility to inform the development of preventive interventions for this at-risk group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-86
Number of pages21
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 15 2015



  • Community-based participatory research
  • Disability
  • Ecodevelopmental
  • Latino/Hispanic
  • Photovoice
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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