Jessie Kemmick Pintor
Date of Defense:
November 20, 2009
Background: In addition to the normative stress experienced during adolescence, immigrant youth must also manage the process of acculturation and its accompanying psychosocial changes, resulting in an even greater stress burden. The role of social support as a buffer against psychological distress warrants exploration into the ability of Latina Adolescents to see the help of others as a copy mechanism.
Objectives: To examine the relationship between perceived stress, acculturation, and support-seeking.
Methods: Fifty-one Latina adolescents participating in a school-based stress/coping intervention completed a self-report instrument including measures of demographic characteristics, perceived stress (PSS), and coping (A-COPE).
Results: Sixty-five percent of participants reported high levels of perceived stress. Girls low in acculturation were significantly less likely to report high levels of perceived stress. Participants low in acculturation were significantly more likely to report use of the coping pattern solving family problems, or more specifically, turning to family members to solve problems. Girls in the “mixed” acculturation category were significantly more likely to report investing in close friends. After adjusting for acculturation, girls who used the coping pattern turning to family members to solve problems were 47% less likely to report high levels of stress.
Conclusions: Despite high reported levels of perceived stress in our sample, Latina adolescents may be able to cope effectively by turning to family members for support. Our findings demonstrate the importance of familism for the well-being of Latina adolescents. Mental health interventions targeting Latina adolescents should seek to involve families and strengthen family cohesion.