Abstract: Resilience Among Latino Immigrants in the United States: The Role of Social Support in Reducing Social Isolation (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Resilience Among Latino Immigrants in the United States: The Role of Social Support in Reducing Social Isolation

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Archives, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Jane Lee, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Jeeyeon Hong, BSW, student, University of Washington
Yuanjin Zhou, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Washington
Gabriel Robles, PhD, MSW, Postdoctoral Fellow, City University of New York, New York City, NY
Background and Purpose: International migrants are at elevated risk for social isolation due to separation from family or social networks in their countries of origin. In the United States, the political rhetoric has been particularly exclusionary against Latino immigrants and may result in heightened levels of social isolation and loneliness. As social isolation can lead to poor mental health outcomes, targeted strategies to ameliorate loneliness and enhance resilience among Latino immigrants are sorely needed. This study examined the potential role of social support in shaping loneliness and resilience among this population.

Methods: We analyzed data from a cross-sectional survey of Latino immigrants aged 18 and older in New York (City n=306). Surveys were conducted in the spring of 2017 and asked about participants’ demographic characteristics including sex, age, country of origin, language, education, income, immigration status, and length of time in the U.S. Loneliness was measured using the 3-Item Loneliness scale (α=0.72); social support was measured with an adapted version of the Social Support Scale (α=0.91) and resilience was measured with the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (α=0.72). We conducted multivariable linear regressions to examine the relationships between loneliness, social support, and resilience, adjusting for demographic characteristics.

Results: Overall, loneliness scores ranged from 1 to 5 with a mean score of 1.9. The adjusted models controlling for all covariates indicated that greater social support was associated with less loneliness (β = -0.16, 95% CI = -0.07, -0.01, p < 0.01), and higher levels of loneliness predicted lower levels of resilience (β = -0.12, 95% CI = -0.22, -0.01, p < 0.05). When including all variables in the model, social support was statistically significantly associated with greater resilience (β = 0.09, 95% CI = 0.01, 0.18, p< 0.05), but the relationship between loneliness and resilience was no longer statistically significant.

Conclusion & Implications: Results revealed that Latino immigrants with greater social support experienced less loneliness and were more resilient. Findings suggest that social support may reduce Latino immigrants’ experience of isolation and enhance their capacity to thrive. Clinical social workers who work with immigrant groups may consider how the heightened xenophobic sociopolitical climate affects immigrants’ social supports and experiences of loneliness. Social work interventions that integrate strategies to increase social support may provide opportunities to address social isolation and other obstacles associated with migration.