Abstract: Religiosity as a Cultural Protective Factor against Illicit Drug use among Latina Women (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

75P Religiosity as a Cultural Protective Factor against Illicit Drug use among Latina Women

Saturday, January 16, 2010
* noted as presenting author
Mariana Sanchez, MSW , Florida International University, Doctoral Student, Miami, FL
Frank Dillon, PhD , Florida International University, Assistant Professor (Research), Miami, FL
Patria Rojas, PhD , Florida International University, Visiting Scholar/Scientist, Miami, FL
Background and Purpose: Religiosity is a salient cultural value within the Latino population. Studies suggest Latinos use religious coping mechanisms more frequently than Non-Latino Whites. Given the tendency of Latinos to apply religious coping skills during stressful life situations, it appears that religiosity may serve as a protective factor against risky health behaviors such as illicit drug use. The present study examines whether religiosity moderates the relationship between chronic stress and illicit drug use among Latina mothers and their daughters. We expect that the association between chronic stress and illicit drug use will be moderated by religiosity, after controlling for socioeconomic status and an acculturation proxy (Spanish language proficiency). Specifically, chronic stress will be positively associated with illicit drug use only among Latina women with low levels of religiosity (and not among Latinas with high levels of religiosity). Thus, religiosity will buffer the effects of chronic stress on illicit drug use.

Methods: The analyses were conducted with data from a study of intergenerational drug use among Latina mothers and daughters. The sample consisted of 316 women that were predominantly first-generation immigrants. Participants were administered a single, face-to-face interview in their language of preference (English or Spanish) that included the measures used in the current study. Participants were asked to report demographic data such as their nativity, current personal income during the year prior to assessment, education level, and their employment status. A measure of Chronic Stress from a survey of adult health risk behaviors (Life Course and Health Research Center, 1997) was used to assess mother and daughter stress levels. Religiosity was assessed by items from the Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire. Spanish language proficiency was measured using the Spanish Language Proficiency scale of the Multidimensional Measure of Cultural Identity Scales for Latinos. The Drug Use Frequency measure was used to assess the frequency of illicit drug use among the participants during the 3 months prior to assessment.

Results: Regression analyses were conducted examining the frequency of marijuana and non-medical sedative use across mother and daughter samples. U.S. born mothers reported more marijuana use. Daughters reporting lower level of Spanish Language Proficiency also reported using marijuana more frequently. Mothers reporting more religiosity reported less marijuana use. Mothers and daughters with high levels of chronic stress and low levels of religiosity reported more marijuana use than participants reporting high levels of chronic stress and high levels of religiosity. The only hypothesized predictor of sedative use was chronic stress in the daughter sample. Daughters reporting more chronic stress reported more sedative use.

Implications: Findings indicate the significant role that religiosity plays in the Latino culture as a potential protective factor from engaging in certain illicit drug use. These results are an important contribution to the field of social work practice and towards the enhancement of culturally congruent substance abuse prevention and intervention services with adult Latinas.