The central hypothesis was that the effects of childhood trauma exposure on family functioning would differ based on several risk and protective factors, including acculturation stress, discrimination, social support, and ethnic identity. This hypothesis was formed based on past research suggesting that risk and protective factors may vary across and within cultural groups (e.g., Marshall et al., 2009; Rivera et al., 2008). To test my central hypothesis, I completed the following specific aims: (a) determine the effects of lifetimes adversities on Latinx family functioning, (b) identify risk and protective factors associated with Latinx immigrant family functioning, and (c) assess differences in risk and protective factors among Latinx subgroups (e.g., Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban).
Methods: For this study, I used the Hispanic Community Health Survey/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), secondary dataset, conducted from 2009-2011 (Gallo et al., 2014). This study used a household probability sampling procedure to identify potential participants in four of the largest Latinx metropolitan areas including the Bronx, Chicago, Miami, and San Diego. Participants (N = 3,642) included immigrants aged 18-74 from various Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
Results: To test my hypothesis, I used structural equation modeling. The model fit the data well. I found that (a) higher levels of lifetime adversities, discrimination, and acculturation stress were linked with worse family cohesion, (b) greater ethnic identity and social support were linked with better family cohesion, and (c) social support moderated the relationship between lifetime adversities and family cohesion. These findings varied based on Latinx subgroup membership.
Conclusion: Findings can help program developers tailor preventive interventions to meet the needs of immigrant populations across different levels of risk. These findings may also have implications for the greater field of prevention science by providing strategies for assessing within-group differences in resilience to support individualized, targeted approaches to mental health.