Social isolation and perceived barriers to establishing social networks among Latina immigrants

Am J Community Psychol. 2014 Mar;53(1-2):73-82. doi: 10.1007/s10464-013-9619-x.


Research has identified numerous mechanisms through which perceived social isolation and lack of social support negatively impact health. Little research attention has been dedicated to factors that influence the development of social networks, which have the potential to decrease perceptions of social isolation and provide social support. There is mixed evidence concerning the availability of supportive social networks for Latinos in the US. This study explores trauma-exposed Latina immigrants' experiences of social isolation in the US and its perceived causes. Twenty-eight Latina immigrant women participated in an interview about traumatic experiences. Informal help seeking and the availability of friendships in the US were also queried. Frequent comparisons between experiences in their home countries and in the US shaped the emerging themes of social isolation and lack of social support. Women reported feeling lonely, isolated, closed-in, and less free in the US due to family separation and various obstacles to developing and maintaining relationships. Socioeconomic, environmental, and psychosocial barriers were offered as explanations for their limited social networks in the US. Understanding experiences of social isolation as well as barriers to forging social networks can help inform the development of social support interventions that can contribute to improved health among Latinos.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Loneliness / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*