Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

15791 The Relationship of Acculturative Stress and Psychological Distress Among Latina Immigrants: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Cuban-, Mexican- and Puerto-Rican-Born Women

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 8:30 AM
Constitution E (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Venera Bekteshi, MSW, MPA, MA, PhD Candidate, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Karen Kayser, PhD, Professor, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Purpose: Several cultural and structural characteristics distinguish Latino immigrants from each other. Yet research often aggregates them into one group. Especially when examining the impact of acculturation and acculturative stress on psychological distress among immigrants, this lack of attention to the differences among the groups can lead to misconceptions about their mental health. This study examined the impact of country of birth on the relationships between the contextual factors, acculturative stress, and psychological distress. Using Family Stress Management (FSM) theory (Boss, 2002) as a framework, we employed a contextual approach when testing the impact of acculturative stress on psychological distress. To capture the unique experiences of Latinas as women, we tested the impact of contexts such as family-cultural conflict, familism and gender-based family structure.

Methods: Using the National Latino Asian American Survey (2002), the study included Mexican- (N=257), Cuban- (N=264) and Puerto-Rican-born (N=118) Latinas. Analysis consisted of a) One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), b) Scheffe post-hoc test to determine group-specific differences, c) two-way interaction test, and d) multi-group path analysis to examine the impact of country of birth on the relationship between contextual factors, acculturative stress and psychological distress. The fit of the data to the model was adequate. Chi-square was non-significant, Comparative Fit Index (CFI) and Tucker Lewis Index (TFI) were greater than 0.95, and Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA) was less than 0.05.

Results: ANOVA analysis showed significant differences among the three groups on acculturative stress, age, daily discrimination, English skills, familism, psychological distress, income, and racial discrimination. Scheffe post-hoc test demonstrated that racial and daily discrimination differed between Cuban- and Puerto-Rican-born and Mexican- and Cuban-born Latinas, and acculturative stress varied between Cuban- and Mexican-born and Puerto-Rican- and Mexican-born Latinas. Age and familism varied between Cuban-, Puerto-Rican- and Mexican-born Latinas. Interaction test revealed that racial discrimination and familism significantly interacted with years in the U.S. Satorra Bentley (2002) chi-square difference test from the multi-group analysis revealed that an increase in age was associated with higher psychological distress for Cuban-born Latinas, an increase in familism was associated with decreased psychological distress for Mexican-born Latinas, and content with the decision to move to U.S. and years in the U.S. impacted acculturative stress of Cuban- and Mexican-born Latinas. Compared to their counterparts, Cuban- and Mexican-born Latinas who were content with the decision to move to U.S. reported lower psychological distress. English skills, visiting family abroad difficulties, family-cultural conflict and racial discrimination impacted acculturative stress of all Latinas in this study. An increase in English skills was associated with a decreased psychological distress, while an increase in visiting family abroad difficulties, family-cultural conflict and racial discrimination was linked to their higher psychological distress.

Implications: The study has implications for the development of culturally sensitive interventions that are effective with different Latina clients. While attending to differences among Latina women, social work practitioners and policy makers can more fully understand what resources are needed to promote their healthy integration into the U.S.