The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Intergenerational Conflict, Familism, and Depressive Symptoms Among Adolescents From Asian and Hispanic Immigrant Families: An Interaction Analysis

Sunday, January 20, 2013: 11:15 AM
Nautilus 1 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Yong Li, MSW, Doctoral Research Assistant, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Purpose: Research has found an association between intergenerational conflict (IC) and negative mental health outcomes, including depressive symptoms, among adolescents from Asian and Hispanic immigrant families. Studies also suggest that certain key cultural values such as familism which ascribes central importance to the family may serve as protective factors against such depressive symptoms. Familism prescribes strong loyalty to the family, placing the needs of the family above one’s own, and keeping the family together. Less is known about how IC and familism may interact with each other. This study seeks to bridge this gap by explicitly examining the interaction model between IC and familism.

Four hypotheses were tested: (1) Familism protects against depressive symptomatology; (2) IC is positively associated with depressive symptoms when controlling for familism; (3) An increase in IC is associated with less increase in depressive symptoms when familism is high, but more increase when familism is low; and (4) An increase in familism is associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms when IC is low, but an increase in depressive symptoms when IC is high.

Method: Data from the first wave of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study were used. The sample included 4,515 children of Hispanic (64.5%) and Asian (35.5%) immigrant parents. Depressive symptoms were measured with four items from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. IC was measured using 3 four-point Likert-type items (e.g., “My parents do not like me very much”). Familism was assessed using 3 four-point Likert-type items (e.g., “When someone has a serious problem, only relatives can help”). The hypotheses were tested using hierarchical regression methods. Four variables, gender, familism, IC and the familism-by-IC interaction, were entered into the hierarchical model one after another in this specified order.

Results: Familism was not significantly associated with depressive symptomatology while controlling for gender. IC was a significant risk factor for depressive symptoms net of the effects of gender and familism (b=1.39, p<.001). The interaction was also significant in predicting depressive symptoms (b=-.32, p<.001). With regard to IC, when familism was at a high level (i.e., familism=2.54), IC had a smaller positive impact on depressive symptoms than when familism was at a low level (i.e., familism=1.25). A cross-over effect was also detected, i.e., when IC was larger than 1.69, high familism was associated with less depressive symptoms than low familism, and vice versa. From the perspective of familism, it was protective against depressive symptoms when the adolescents perceived high IC (i.e., IC=2.32). When the IC level was low (i.e., IC=1.09), however, familism is positively associated with depressive symptoms.

Implications: These findings point to the important and complex ways in which IC and familism interact to operate as a risk or protective factor for mental health outcomes among adolescents from Asian and Hispanic immigrant families experiencing IC. Practitioners working with these populations should familiarize themselves with themes of IC and Familism. Culturally responsive strategies that strengthen familistic values among adolescents may be particularly useful for helping them and their families prevent and cope with IC.