Alcohol misuse among recent Latino immigrants: the protective role of preimmigration familismo

Psychol Addict Behav. 2013 Dec;27(4):956-65. doi: 10.1037/a0031091. Epub 2012 Dec 31.


Familismo in the Latino culture is a value hallmarked by close relations with nuclear and extended family members throughout the life span, with pronounced levels of loyalty, reciprocity, and solidarity. Familismo is posited as health protective against alcohol misuse among Latinos in the United States. This study examines the relative influence of pre- and postimmigration familismo on alcohol use behaviors among recent Latino immigrants while accounting for myriad sociocultural factors (gender, age, documentation status, education, income, marital status, presence of family members in the United States, primary language used in the community, English language proficiency, and time in the United States). Participants included 405 young adults, aged 18 to 34 years, who were primarily of Cuban (50%), Columbian (19%), and Central American (15%) descent. Retrospective assessment of preimmigration familismo occurred during participants' first 12 months in the United States. Follow-up assessment of alcohol use behaviors occurred during participants' second year in the United States. Multiple Indicators Multiple Causes (MIMIC) path modeling was used to test study hypotheses. Inverse associations were determined between preimmigration familismo and alcohol use quantity and harmful/hazardous alcohol use. Men and participants who reported more proficiency in English, and those living in neighborhoods where English is predominantly spoken, indicated more alcohol use quantity and harmful/hazardous alcohol use. By considering both pre- and postimmigration determinants of alcohol use, findings offer a fuller contextual understanding of the lives of Latino young adult immigrants. Results support the importance of lifelong familismo as a buffer against alcohol misuse in young adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / ethnology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Family Relations / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Young Adult