Abstract: The Role of Acculturation and Intimate Partner Violence on Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms Among Hispanic Youth with Child Welfare Contact (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

350P The Role of Acculturation and Intimate Partner Violence on Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms Among Hispanic Youth with Child Welfare Contact

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Dianne Ciro, PhD, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Ijeoma Nwabuzor Ogbonnaya, PhD, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University
Background and Purpose: Decades of rigorous research have shown deleterious effects of childhood exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV), including heightened risk of experiencing posttraumatic stress (PTS) and developing posttraumatic stress disorder. Children involved with child welfare who have been exposed to IPV may exhibit higher rates of PTSD than children in the general population. However, the same may not be true for Hispanic children involved with child welfare who, despite having high rates of poverty and low access to health care, have cultural protective factors that are associated with relatively good child health profiles.  This paradox, termed the “Hispanic Paradox” in the health literature, may be useful in understanding the effects of IPV on Hispanic children’s risk of PTSD; however, few child welfare studies have examined this relationship, and there is no investigation of how this relationship may be influenced by acculturation. The current study attempts to address this gap in knowledge by investigating the association between IPV and PTS symptoms among a national sample of Hispanic youth involved with child welfare. Also, we examined the relationship between acculturation and PTS symptoms, and whether acculturation moderates the effects of IPV on PTS symptoms.

Methods: This cross-sectional data analysis used data from 271 Hispanic youth from the second cohort of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW II). The NSCAW II includes a nationally representative sample of children who lived in the United States and were subject of a child abuse or neglect investigation between February 2008 and April 2009. The current study used data collected from youth, caregivers, and caseworkers at baseline. Post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTS) were measured using the PTS subscale of the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children. Additionally, IPV exposure was assessed using the witnessing violence subscale of the Violence Exposure Scale for Children. Finally, acculturation level was calculated using measures of parent nativity and whether Spanish is spoken regularly at home. We conducted multiple linear regression analyses to achieve our study aims.

Results: We did not find a statistically significant relationship between IPV exposure and PTS symptoms among Hispanic youth (B = .21, 95% CI = [-.09, .52]); however, we found differences in PTS symptoms by level of acculturation. Specifically, higher levels of acculturation were associated with more reports of PTS symptoms (B = 1.03, 95% CI = [.13, 1.93]).

Conclusion and Implications: The results of this study extend prior studies of child welfare involved youth. However, different from other studies, this study presents differences in PTS symptoms among Hispanic youth by level of acculturation. Our findings highlight the need for the use of a strengths-based perspective and bicultural interventions when working with Hispanic youth exposed to IPV. Our findings are different from past research that suggest a significant relationship between PTS and IPV, indicating that there may be other factors that are more important to consider when trying to understand characteristics of Hispanic youth who display PTS symptoms. These findings have important implications for child welfare policy, direct practice and further research.