Substance Use and Sexual Behavior among Recent Hispanic Immigrant Adolescents: Effects of Parent‐Adolescent Differential Acculturation and Communication

Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Impact Factor: 3.42). 05/2012; In press.


Objectives: To ascertain the effects of parent‐adolescent acculturation gaps, perceived
discrimination, and perceived negative context of reception on adolescent cigarette smoking, alcohol
use, sexual activity, and sexual risk taking. We used an expanded, multidimensional model of
Method: A sample of 302 recently immigrated parent‐adolescent dyads (152 from Miami and 150
from Los Angeles) completed measures of acculturation (Hispanic and American practices and
identifications, and individualist and collectivist values) and parent‐adolescent communication.
Adolescents completed measures of recent cigarette smoking, alcohol use, sexual behavior, and sexual
risk taking.
Results: Parent‐adolescent gaps in American practices and ethnic identity, and perceptions of a
negative context of reception, predicted compromised parent‐adolescent communication. In Miami
only, adolescent‐reported communication negatively predicted odds of cigarette smoking, occasions of
drunkenness, and number of sexual partners. Also in Miami only, parent‐reported communication
positively predicted these outcomes, as well as occasions of adolescent binge drinking, drunkenness,
number of sexual partners, and odds of unprotected sex. The only significant findings in Los Angeles
were protective effects of parent‐reported communication on frequency of alcohol use and of binge
drinking. Mediational effects emerged only in the Miami sample.
Conclusions: Effects of parent‐adolescent acculturation gaps vary across Hispanic groups and
receiving contexts. The especially strong parental control in many Mexican families may account for
these differences. However, other important differences between Hispanic subgroups and communities
of reception could also account for these differences. Prevention efforts might encourage Hispanic
youth both to retain their culture of origin and to acquire American culture.

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Available from: Seth J Schwartz