The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Mexican and U.S. -Born Women of Mexican Descent: Differences in Perceptions of Psychological Well-Being

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 5:30 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 002A River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Venera Bekteshi, MSW, MPA, MA, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Qingwen Xu, PhD, Associate Professor, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Thanh V. Tran, PhD, Professor, School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Background. Latino population is projected to constitute 25% of the U.S. population by 2050; yet studies focusing on the psychological well-being of Latinas remain limited.  A shift from a predominantly Mexican culture to a predominantly U.S. culture, transpiring with acculturation, is accompanied by a change in the awareness of psychological well-being among Mexican women. Perceptions of psychological-wellbeing among Mexican-born women may be different from those of their U.S.-born counterparts because some of the essential Mexican values shaping the beliefs about psychological-wellbeing among Mexican-born women may not be as influential for their U.S.-born counterparts. Combining a number of depression and anxiety symptoms, Kessler Scale (K6) is used among researchers as an indicator of psychological well-being across racial/ethnic groups. However, it has never been tested for its capacity to measure psychological well-being equally across Mexican- and U.S.-born women of Mexican descent.  By testing K6’s cross-cultural equivalence, this study seeks to enable group-specific interpretation of K6 score, to increase the knowledge about clinical/social work solutions to psychological well-being among Latinas.

Methodologies: Using the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) 2007, this study inovled 1,138 low-income Mexican women, 319 born in U.S. and 819 born in Mexico.  We use the framework of cross-cultural validation (Luyt, 2011; Tran, 2009), consisting of examination of  a.) descriptive statistics- i.e. kurtosis, skewness, corrected item-total correlation and cronbach’s alpha,  and b.) Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) to test structures and factor patterns of the K6.  The K6 items were grouped into Somatic Symptoms and Negative Feelings (Aronson, 2006).  They key statistics used to determine the cross-cultural equivalence of K6 were χ2 (>0.05), Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA) (<0.05), Tucker Lewis Index (TLI) and Comparative Fit Index (both had to be greater than .90; changes in CFI between had to be 0). 

Results. The results of descriptive and CFA analysis could not confirm the K6’s cross-cultural equivalence.  The data was left-skewed for both groups; the kurtosis values of some items were slightly different between the two groups;  while corrected item total correlation and Cronbach’s Alpha’s values inferred that the six items in the U.S.-born Mexican women group “tied” slightly better together in measuring psychological well-being.  The CFA results exhibited differences in the values and magnitude of factor loadings and measurement errors. The results of the five tested basic hypotheses derived from CFA showed mixed results; while some measures of ft (i.e. χ2, RMSEA and the change in CFI value between the nested models) suggested lack of K6’s cross-cultural equivalence, others had more favorable values suggesting a cross-cultural equivalence.

Implications: The culture’s extensive role in one’s perception of psychological well-being has important implications for researchers and practitioners working with Latinas. This study encourages researchers not to elide the impact of acculturation on perceptions of mental health, even when the population studied is of the same gender, economic background, and ethnicity.  Neglecting to test  the cross-cultural equivalence of the scale may lead to adverse consequences for populations studied, e.g., an effective health intervention might be wrongly rendered ineffective.