Methods: In this cross-sectional study, a total of 374 community dwelling women of Latin American heritage completed an anonymous survey. Sixty-six percent of the participants chose to complete that survey in Spanish. Their mean age was 39 years, 43% had not completed high school and 67% had an annual household income below $24,999. Measures included the Hispanic Women’s Stressor Scale (HWS), Perceived Stress Scale, Coping Self-Efficacy Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Beck Anxiety Scale, and Center of Epidemiology Depression Scale. Structural equation modelling (SEM) was employed to test a hypothesized latent variable model proposing that higher levels of self-esteem, coping and relational boundaries would be associated with lower levels of stress. It was further hypothesized that stress would be positively associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety. Each latent variable was constructed using three observed indicators following recommendations by Morrison, Morrison and McCutcheon (2017).
Results: The results of the SEM analysis were partly consistent with our hypothesized model. Higher levels of stress were statistically, significantly associated with lower levels of coping (β=-.47, p.<.001). However, relational boundaries (β=.22, p=.001) and self-esteem (β=.24, p< .001) were positively associated with stress and had an overall R-squared = .38. As hypothesized, stress was a statistically significant predictor of higher levels of both depression (β=.87, p<.001) and anxiety (β=.81, p<.001), with R-squareds = .76 and .66 respectively. Overall, the hypothesized model had a good fit based on the following indices: RMSEA = .036, CFI = .978 and NFI =.936.
Conclusion and Implication: These results suggest that firm relational boundaries and high self-esteem can be conducive to high levels of stress. These findings are intriguing and do not support our fist hypothesis. Relational cultural practices stemming from the values of familism and collectivism as well as gender role prescriptions may help understand these findings. The results also suggest that high levels of stress can be conducive to anxiety and depression, thus, supporting our second hypothesis. Practitioners working with Latinas could explore with them the potential adverse effects of firm relational boundaries and high self-esteem on their stress levels and jointly devise strategies for appropriate adjustments. Educational material on stress as a risk factor for anxiety and depression could be routinely provided. Future research on this line of inquiry could inform evidence-based social work practice with Latinas, a historically underserved population.