Category: Cultural Diversity / Vulnerable Populations
Background: Previous research has shown that the experience of acculturative stress in Latino youths negatively affects their internalizing symptoms (Smokowski & Bacallao, 2007). As such, current research has focused their efforts on understanding the mechanism of how acculturative stress affects mental health symptoms. Surprisingly, few studies have looked at coping styles as a potential mechanism, even though coping styles are potentially important mediators of the impact of stress to mental health symptoms (Compas et al., 2001). One study has found that active coping style partially mediated the relationship between acculturative stress and depressive symptoms in a sample of Latino adults (Driscoll & Torres, 2013). We examine whether various coping styles—active, internal, and withdrawal—mediate the relationship between acculturative stress and internalizing symptoms in a sample of rural Latino youths as no study has done so.
Methods: Participants were 542 Latino youths (mean age=15.74, SD=1.23; 51.7% male) recruited from a high school in Imperial Valley, California. The majority reported to be U.S. born (87.5%), while 10.7% of the youths reported to be foreign-born. We examined acculturative stress using the Social, Attitudinal, Familial and Environmental Acculturation Stress scale, coping styles using the Coping Across Situations Questionnaire, and internalizing symptoms using the Youth Self Report.
Results: Controlling for age, gender, and nativity status, mediators were tested through bootstrapping (10,000 bootstrap samples) with 95% bias-corrected confidence intervals via the PROCESS macro (Hayes, 2013) for SPSS. The regression of acculturative stress on internalizing symptoms, ignoring the mediators, was significant, b=13.933, t(463)=7.761, p < .001. Next, the regression of acculturative stress on the mediators was only significant for withdrawal coping style, b=2.585, t(463)=6.438, p < .001. Next step of the mediation process showed that the mediator (withdrawal coping style), controlling for acculturative stress, was significant, b=1.015, t(460)=6.817, p < .001. Final step of the analysis revealed that, controlling for the mediator (withdrawal coping style), acculturative stress was still a significant predictor of internalizing symptoms, b=11.206, t(460)=6.594, p= < .001. A Sobel test was conducted and found partial mediation of withdrawal coping style in the model (z=4.654, p < .001). The mediator could account for roughly .188 of the total effect.
Conclusion: Findings underscore the role of withdrawal coping style in explaining why acculturative stress may lead to greater internalizing symptoms. These data may guide future studies aimed at elucidating the influence of cultural factors when considering etiology of youth internalizing disorders.
Hardian Thamrin– Student, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
Emily Escovar– Doctoral Student, University of California Los Angeles
Amy Rapp– Doctoral Student, University of California Los Angeles
Denise Chavira– Associate Professor, University of California - Los Angeles