Cano explores alcohol use & depression among Hispanic college students

Miguel Angel Cano, Ph.D.

Dr. Miguel Angel Cano, of the Department of Epidemiology has published the results of two related studies that explore the relationship of culturally relevant factors (e.g., acculturation, ethnic discrimination, cultural congruity) with alcohol use among Hispanic college students. Findings from these studies may have the potential to inform the design of future culturally-targeted alcohol use interventions for Hispanic college students.

The first study, Alcohol Use Severity among Hispanic Emerging Adults in Higher Education: Understanding the Effect of Cultural Congruity, was done in conjunction with Ellen L. Vaughan, Marcel A. de Dios, Yessenia Castro, Angelica M. Roncancio and Lizette Ojeda. It presents the unexpected finding that perceptions of cultural congruity only lowered levels of alcohol use severity among men, but not women. “Creating a university environment that is welcoming and accepting of characteristics of the Hispanic culture (e.g., Hispanic cultural identity, Hispanic cultural values, Hispanic cultural practices) may function as a protective factor of against high alcohol use,” said Dr. Cano.

The second study, Alcohol use severity and depressive symptoms among late adolescent Hispanics: Testing associations of acculturation and enculturation in a bicultural transaction model, was done in conjunction with Marcel A. de Dios, Yessenia Castro, Ellen L. Vaughan d, Linda G. Castillo, Elma I. Lorenzo-Blanco, Brandy Piña-Watson, Jodi Berger Cardoso, Lizette Ojeda, Rick A. Cruz, Virmarie Correa-Fernandez, Gladys Ibañez, Rehab Auf, Lourdes M. Molleda. It suggests that acculturation may create a cultural and intrapersonal divide among Hispanic adolescents and their respective families, which in turn, may increase levels of depressive symptoms. “To date, not much research has examined within-group cultural stressors and how they may be associated with health-related outcomes, but it’s important to examine if within-group cultural stressors play a role in the health of Hispanic adolescents to better inform the design of evidence-based interventions,” said Dr. Cano.

Dr. Cano explains, “This study adds to the limited literature indicating that stressful interactions (e.g., intragroup marginalization) within the heritage culture group may increase with acculturation, and in turn, increase levels of alcohol use and depressive symptoms.”

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