Ethnic pride may help protect Latino students from alcohol problems


The negative consequences of heavy drinking are well documented, but little is known about how to tailor interventions to prevent alcohol problems among Latino college students, the fastest growing minority ethnic group. quickly on American college campuses.

A new study led by Katja Waldron, a doctoral candidate in biobehavioral health at Penn State, suggests that developing culturally sensitive interventions for Latino students during their first and second years of college may be effective in preventing alcohol-related problems during college and later in life. .

The study examined whether ethnic identity and familismo influenced Latino students‘ frequency of alcohol consumption and the likelihood of developing alcohol-related problems during their fourth year of college.

Ethnic identity refers to the sense of belonging to that ethnic group, and familismo is a Latin American cultural value of family as the primary source of social support and identity, Waldron explained.

Previous research has shown that Latino ethnic identity and familismo may protect against physical health risks and risky drinking, but questions remain about how the two interact to impact drinking. alcohol at university.

Katja Waldron, PhD Candidate in Biobehavioral Health, Penn State

The research team surveyed 245 Latino college students about their cultural values, drinking behaviors, and alcohol-related consequences at two predominantly white colleges in the northeastern and northwestern United States and of a Hispanic settlement in the southwestern United States. They surveyed students in their first, second, and fourth years of college. The possible consequences covered five categories – loss of consciousness, sexual consequences, social problems, loss of control and difficulties at school.

The study found that ethnic pride – the extent to which a person feels proud or confident about their ethnic identity – was associated with significantly lower alcohol and drinking-related consequences. Conversely, ethnic shame – the extent to which a person feels embarrassed or ashamed of their ethnic identity – was linked to a higher likelihood of problem drinking.

Familism in the first year of college was not directly predictive of alcohol use and its consequences in the fourth year. However, the familismo was indirectly associated with the consumption of alcohol and its consequences by the ethnic identity. Familismo predicted more ethnic pride, while less familismo predicted more ethnic shame. The results are published in the Journal of Ethnicity in Drug Addiction.

When examining the drinking habits of the group of Latino students, Waldron found a “cross-over effect” showing that Latino students drank less and had fewer alcohol-related consequences in

the first two years of college – followed by an increase in both the amount of alcohol consumed and the negative consequences beginning in the third year and increasing through the fourth year.

According to the researchers, studies have consistently shown that parents can play a positive role in shaping their children’s attitudes towards alcohol use – through modelling, monitoring, communication and rule-making. said Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State and lead researcher on the study.

The research team recommended conducting group interviews with Latino parents and students.

“In order to effectively incorporate elements of ethnic identity and familismo into an intervention program, researchers must first speak directly with Latino parents and students to understand how the study findings resonate with them” , Waldron said. “My hopes are to support the development of intervention programs that help Latino students using a personalized approach.”

Waldron and Turrisi collaborated on this study with Eduardo Romano, principal investigator and expert on the links between Latino culture and alcohol consumption at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation; and Erin Wolfe and Alexa Plisiewicz, who were undergraduate researchers at Penn State at the time of this study.

The study was funded by the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


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