Abstract: Intimate Partner Emotional Abuse and Depression Among Puerto Rican Women: The Mediating Roles of Coping Styles (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

Intimate Partner Emotional Abuse and Depression Among Puerto Rican Women: The Mediating Roles of Coping Styles

Friday, January 18, 2019: 10:15 AM
Union Square 20 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Blanca Ramos, PhD, Associate Professor, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY
Randall Stetson, PhD, Visiting Assistant Professor, State University of New York College at Oswego, Oswego, NY
Shaojie Pan, MSW, doctoral student, university at albany
Background and Purpose: Intimate partner emotional abuse is one of the most prevalent forms of abuse against women and can adversely impact the mental health of women survivors. Some research suggests that coping style may mediate the relationship between emotional abuse and mental health outcomes including depression.  For Puerto Rican women, sociocultural factors such as ethnic minority status and traditional cultural values may greatly influence their preferred coping styles. Puerto Rican women on the US mainland are a rapidly growing Latino subgroup particularly as they flee the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria on the island. This study examines the mediating role of coping style (problem focused, emotionally focused, social support focused) on the relationship between emotional abuse and depression in a sample of Puerto Rican women. 

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 252 women of Puerto Rican heritage in community settings. Their mean age was 39, 54% had not completed high school, and 75% had an annual household income below $24,999. Measures included the Coping Self-Efficacy Scale, the Psychological Maltreatment of Women Inventory and CES-D. Structural equation model based mediation analysis was employed.   

Results: Psychological maltreatment was a significant predictor of depression, b = 1.460, SE = .518, p =.005. Likewise, problem focused coping and emotional focused coping were also significant predictors of depression, b = -1.275, SE = .522 p = .015 and b = -.874, SE = .399 p = .028 respectively. These results support the mediational hypothesis. With the addition of the two mediators, the effect of psychological abuse on depression remained significant but was reduced, b = 1.024, SE = .493, p =.038, consistent with partial mediation. Approximately 18% of the variance in depression was accounted for by the predictors (R2 = .184). The indirect effect was tested using a bootstrap estimation approach with 1000 samples. These results indicated the indirect coefficient was significant, b = .436, SE = .196. p= .011, CI = .098, .874. The effect of psychological maltreatment on depression decreased approximately .436 points for every one point increase in problem and emotionally focused coping. Preliminary analysis revealed that the relationship between social support focused coping and depression was insignificant and was therefore eliminated from further analysis.

Conclusions and Implications: The results indicate that problem focused and emotionally focused coping styles can mediate the relationship between emotional abuse and depression. Practitioners working with Puerto Rican women could help strengthen problem focus and emotionally focus strategies to respond to emotional abuse. Further studies in this area of research could help inform program and policy development to provide services to Puerto Rican women survivors effectively.