Bridging Disciplinary Boundaries (January 11 - 14, 2007)

Marina Room (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)

The Influence of Family Adaptability, Family Cohesion and Familism on Adolescent Problem-Behavior

Flavio F. Marsiglia, PhD, Arizona State University and Monica Parsai, MSW, Arizona State University.

Adolescence in itself is a difficult period, but for Latino adolescents these difficulties may be even more pronounced as they try to balance their family values and the values of the dominant culture. The context of family relations is very important because it affects a variety of adolescent outcomes. The purpose of this study is to explore how family cohesion, family adaptability and familism relate to substance use, aggressive behavior, conduct behavior, and rule breaking in a sample of Mexican-heritage adolescents in a Southwestern city of the United States.

Using Ecological Systems Theory we will discuss cohesion, adaptability and familism in this population. Family adaptability is conceptualized as the family's ability to flexibly respond to various situations including changes in power structure, discipline, rules and negotiation styles (Olson, Portner, & Lavee, 1985). Family cohesion refers to “the emotional bonding that family members have toward one another” (Olson, Russell, & Sprenkle, 1979, p. 70). Familism is the value that emphasis strong identification with and attachment to one's family (Marin & Gamba, 2003). In previous studies these factors have been found to be negatively correlated with adolescent problem-behavior (Ramirez & Hosch, 1991; Chilman, 1993; Fuligni, 1998).

We used Wave 1 of the LAHP Arizona sample for the present study. The LAHP (Latino Acculturation and Health Project) is a longitudinal study that is being conducted in Arizona and North Carolina. The Wave 1 data was collected during the year 2005. One parent and one adolescent 14 to 18 years of age were interviewed in their homes. A total of 147 families were Mexican-heritage. The adolescent sample consisted of 40% male and 60% females. The parents were all females with exception of 9 males. The outcome variables were alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana lifetime use as reported by the adolescents; adolescent aggressiveness, conduct problems, and rule breaking were assessed using the corresponding Child Behavior Checklist subscales. Family adaptability and cohesion were measured using FACES II. And, familism was measured with the Vega familism scale. We use correlations and regression analysis models to explore family cohesion, adaptability and familism in the prediction of substance use and other types of problem-behavior. Adolescent family cohesion was found to be protective of adolescent substance use and other problem behaviors. Adolescent familism functioned as a protective factor for aggressive behavior and conduct problem but not rule breaking behavior.

The results of this study have implications for program development and implementation that will be discussed during the presentation.