The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

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

Differential Immigration Stress Impacts and Self-Rated Mental Health of Major Latino-American Subgroups: A National Study

Thursday, January 16, 2014: 3:30 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 003B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Harald Ernst Weiss, PhD, Graduate Research Assistant, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Amy L. Ai, PhD, Professor, Associate Dean for Research, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Anna Yelick, MSW, Research Assistant, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Background: Latinos are the largest ethnic minority population in the United States (US).  It is estimated that by 2050, 24% of the US population will be Latino. Previous research has noted that there are considerable variations across the three major Latino subgroups (Cubans, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans) in the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) database—the first national population-based study of Latinos living in the US. Important inter-group differences include, but are not limited to, their ancestral origins, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic locations, and socioeconomic-political reasons for their immigration to the US.  The varied sub-ethnic cultures, as well as the immigration histories of specific groups, may contribute to different levels of perceived discrimination, acculturation stress, and mental health status of each Latino subgroup. Understanding these differences may help better understand the need for and effectiveness of social work interventions with Latino clients. Method: The NLAAS was designed in coordination with the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Studies (CPES), which includes NLAAS, the National Survey of American Life, and the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Using the interval estimates from other CPES studies, the NLAAS uses Bayesian methods to produce weighted estimates. To demonstrate the differential risk and protective factors in the NLAAS Latino subgroup data, we conducted three hierarchical logistic regression models to examine the contributors to self-rated mental health for the three Latino subgroups. Results: Analyses show both sub-group similarities and sub-group variations in predictors of self-rated mental health. The influence of gender and age does not differ significantly between the different subgroups. However, there are noticeable inter-group differences in the effects of the length of time the respondent spent in the US. While this variable is not a statistically significant predictor of self-rated mental health for Cubans and Puerto Ricans the variable is tied to significant decreases in self-rated mental health in Mexican-Americans (p<.05.05). Furthermore, experienced discrimination does not affect the self-rated mental health of Cubans but does reduce self-rated mental health in both Puerto Ricans (p<..01) and Mexicans (p<.05.05). Interestingly, in models controlling for a host of other covariates the deleterious effect of discrimination for Puerto Ricans was almost twice as big as that of Mexicans. Overall, our results show that for Mexicans the length spent in the US was the largest negative predictor of self-rated mental health, while for Puerto Ricans it was perceived discrimination. Theoretical explanations for the observed sub-group differences are discussed in differences in subculture and in immigration.