Continued increases in the Hispanic population in the US will require social workers to consider Hispanics' experiences with cultural change. Individuals experiencing acculturation (i.e., cultural changes in attitudes and behaviors) are at greater risk for mental health disorders (Alderete et al., 2000). However, the cultural changes resulting in reduced mental health functioning remain unclear. Some ambiguity relates to acculturation instruments, which neglect to thoroughly sample cultural item content and lack sensitivity to gradual change (Cabassa, 2003). This study developed and validated a more comprehensive acculturation instrument that expanded scale response options improving instrument sensitivity.
Scale Development and Data Collection
Items for the Hispanic Acculturation Index (HAI) were developed from qualitative interviews and existing literature to measure Hispanic and White American culture. A focus group, poor item reliability, and cross loadings helped reduce the scale to 28 items. Higher scores indicate higher levels of Hispanic and/or White American culture. A purposive sample of Hispanics and White Americans (N=209) were recruited from classes and student organizations at a southeastern university. Students completed a survey packet during class time or organizational meetings.
Hispanics composed 44% and White Americans 55% of the sample. Of the sample, females represented 55% and males 43.5% with a mean age of M=20.60 (SD=2.47). Respondents' generational statuses were 1st=17.9%, 2nd=19.4%, 3rd=13.4%, 4th=19.4%, 5th=19.4%, and mixed generation=10.4%.
Two measures were used to test the convergent and discriminate validity of the scale. The Orthogonal Cultural Identification Scale (OCIS) was used to measure White American/Anglo and Mexican-American/Spanish ethnic identification (Beauvais & Oetting, 2000). The Social Support Appraisal Scale (SSA) was used to measure perceived social support (Vaux et al., 2000). The sample reliabilities for these scales were OCSI-Mexican/Spanish α=.94, OCSI-White American/Anglo α=.88 and SSA α=.93.
Cronbach's alpha was used to test the reliability of the HAI. Additionally, the standard error of measurement (SEM) was computed and compared to an established threshold of .50 (see Hudson, 1982). The multiple group method (Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994) and a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) were used to examine the factor structure of the HAI. Lastly, Pearson's correlation coefficients were utilized to test the validity of the scale by examining construct associations.
Alphas for the HAI subscales were Hispanic-(HAI-HS) α=.961 and White American factors-(HAI-WAS) α=.905. The SEM for the HAI-HS (.571) and HAI-WAS (.563) revealed values higher than the established threshold. Initial factor loadings indicated appropriate subscale separation. Following model modifications, the CFA indicated appropriate model fit CFI=.975, NFI=.930, IFI=.976, RFI=.891, TLC=.961, RMSEA=0.049, and χ2/df=(243/364.2)=1.498. The HAI-HS (r=.838) and HAI-WAS (r=.619) subscales positively correlated with the hypothesized OCSI subscale and produced non-statistically-significant results with the SSA as anticipated.
The HAI's validation indicates that response options can be expanded and new content added to acculturation instruments while maintaining psychometric properties that are comparable to existing scales. These improvements may improve our understanding of the problems Hispanics may face. Future research should continue to expand item content to reflect a broader range of Hispanic culture while enhancing instrument sensitivity.