Generational and Neighborhood Sociocultural Factors & Depression Among Latinos Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Ward, Julia
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic position (SEP) and acculturation have been identified as two salient factors for Latino mental health. These factors may change and accumulate over multiple generations and within neighborhoods, especially among Latino populations. However, existing literature examining the mental health effects of SEP and acculturation is limited to examination of individual-level variables within a single generation. The role of the accumulation of socioeconomic and cultural factors across generations and within neighborhoods in shaping Latino mental health remains virtually unexplored. Linking data from the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging, the Niños Lifestyle & Diabetes Study, and 2000 US Census, this dissertation addressed three gaps in our understanding of depression etiology: the association of (1) socioeconomic and (2) acculturation trajectories across generations with depressive symptoms; and (3) the association of neighborhood cultural factors with depressive symptoms. Overall, our study populations had a high depressive symptom prevalence comparable to that of larger, more representative samples of US Latinos. Our results suggested that intergenerational and community-level factors may play a role in this high prevalence. Firstly, we found that compared to stable-low educational mobility, stable-high education and upward educational mobility were associated with fewer depressive symptoms. Downwardly mobile participants also had slightly fewer depressive symptoms compared to stable-low participants. Secondly, decreased Spanish use and stable-equal English/Spanish use across generations appeared to protect against depressive symptoms in offspring, compared to stable-high Spanish use. Notably, stable-low Spanish use across generations did not confer a mental health benefit. Finally, we found a strong positive association between neighborhood cultural segregation measures and depressive symptoms that was attenuated toward the null upon adjustment for individual-level education. Overall our study suggests the importance of access to educational resources across generations and within neighborhoods in addition to exposure to cultural heritage and ties for Latino mental health. Our study highlights the importance of collecting and examining data regarding how socioeconomic and cultural contexts change across generations and accumulate within communities to impact depression in minority populations. This dissertation contributes to a more comprehensive and contextual understanding of depression etiology and the dynamic community and intergenerational pathways that shape Latino mental health.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Albrecht, Sandra
  • Pence, Brian
  • Maselko, Joanna
  • Robinson, Whitney
  • Aiello, Allison
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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