Abstract: Enhancing Resilience Among Latino Immigrants in the United States: Community Cohesion As a Protective Factor Against Loneliness (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

Enhancing Resilience Among Latino Immigrants in the United States: Community Cohesion As a Protective Factor Against Loneliness

Saturday, January 19, 2019: 4:00 PM
Union Square 20 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Jane Lee, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Gabriel Robles, PhD, MSW, Postdoctoral Fellow, City University of New York, New York City, NY
Background and Purpose: Loneliness is a serious social welfare concern that has consequences for physical and mental health and well-being. Latino immigrants in the United States are particularly vulnerable to experiencing loneliness due to social isolation and separation from social networks resulting from the migration process. However, Latino immigrants tend to migrate to metropolitan areas with large communities of individuals from shared regions or countries of origin, which may lessen the experience of loneliness among this population. This study sought to examine the relationship between loneliness, community cohesion, and resilience among Latino immigrants in a Queens neighborhood in New York City.

Methods: Data were collected using a cross-sectional survey design. Latino immigrant adults (ages 18 years and older) were recruited via a door-to-door outreach strategy, and a total of 306 participants completed a socio-behavioral questionnaire. Loneliness was measured by the 3-Item Loneliness Scale (α=0.72), resilience was measured by the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) (α=0.72), and community cohesion was measured by a 5-item scale of neighborhood cohesion (α=0.92). The relationships between loneliness, community cohesion, and resilience were analyzed using chi-squared tests, and bivariate and multivariable linear regression.

Results: The indirect relationship between neighborhood cohesion and loneliness was tested using a bootstrap estimation approach with resilience operating as a mediator, and controlling for country of origin, length of time in the U.S., and age. The model results indicated that the indirect relationship between cohesion and loneliness was significant (β = -0.04, 95% CI = -0.07, -0.01, p < 0.01). Specifically, higher levels of neighborhood cohesion were associated with higher levels of resilience (B = 0.18, 95%CI 0.10, 0.25, p < 0.001), and in turn higher levels of resilience were associated with lower levels of loneliness (B = -0.23, 95%CI -0.37, -0.11, p < 0.001). The direct relationship between neighborhood cohesion and loneliness was not statistically significant.

Conclusion and Implications: Study results demonstrate the important relationship between neighborhood context and individual health. These findings suggest that community level approaches that target factors associated with cohesion in immigrant neighborhoods may present an opportunity for addressing mental health outcomes. Specifically, the trusting networks of relationships and shared values and norms in a community may reduce loneliness through increased resilience among Latino immigrants. To facilitate resilience among Latino immigrants and to prevent risk factors for poor mental health outcomes, social work practice and policy may identify strategies to promote a sense of neighborhood cohesion in these communities. Additionally, social work practitioners who work with immigrant groups should consider the impact of neighborhood factors when assessing individual mental health outcomes. Future research that examines effective strategies to promote cohesion in immigrant communities may inform development of effective community level health promotion interventions.