Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Kate Flory

Abstract

Latinos/as are the fastest growing demographic in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). As they encounter U.S. society, Latino/as may experience acculturative stress (Berry, 1997). Empirical evidence suggests that Latinos/as in the U.S. report high rates of depression symptoms (Wassertheil-Smoller et al 2014). Acculturative stress has been strongly associated with depression (Driscoll & Torres, 2013) and research suggests that Latino/as may experience acculturative stress differently depending on their generational status (i.e., how recently they or their parents immigrated to the U.S). There is evidence to suggest that contextual factors such as neighborhood context may influence both acculturative stress processes and mental health outcomes (Vega et al, 2011). The current study examined how two aspects of neighborhood context -neighborhood safety and social cohesion- interacted with acculturative stress and depression among first generation Latino/a immigrants. We utilized secondary data from the National Latino Asian Study (NLAAS). It was found that acculturative stress and neighborhood safety significantly predicted depression symptoms. In addition to assessing the relation between acculturative stress and depressive symptoms with the whole sample, we sought to determine whether acculturative stress was associated with depression symptom severity among a subset of the sample that endorsed at least one symptom of depression. We found that the association did not hold with this subset of the sample. Differences in findings suggest that first generation Latino/a immigrants with high levels of acculturative stress may be at-risk of experiencing depression symptoms. However, once depression symptoms are reported, acculturative stress may not be as influential in determining depression severity (Hovey, 2000). Moreover, the interaction of acculturative stress, neighborhood safety, and social cohesion did not predict depression symptoms. This may have occurred because other factors that were controlled for, such as SES, race, gender and citizenship status, explained more variance in the model than acculturative stress, neighborhood safety, and social cohesion. Finally, we present implications for research and practice that may be drawn from this study.

Share

COinS