Racial/ethnic identity and subjective physical and mental health of Latino Americans: an asset within?

Am J Community Psychol. 2014 Mar;53(1-2):173-84. doi: 10.1007/s10464-014-9635-5.


Social Identity Theory indicates that ethnic identity could benefit minority members in a society because of its promotion of a sense of belonging, or of its buffering of the damage of discrimination. Despite growing investigation about Latinos' overall health, few studies have simultaneously examined the influence of multiple cultural strength factors, especially racial/ethnic identity, social support, and religious attendance, on these outcomes. Using the National Latino and Asian American Study, we examine the potential predictive value of these cultural strength factors on Latinos' Self-Rated Mental and Physical Health (SRMH and SRPH). Two separate two-step regression models revealed significant positive effects of racial/ethnic identity on both mental and physical health of Latinos, above and beyond the effect of known demographic and acculturation factors, such as discrimination. Religious attendance had a positive effect on SRMH but not on SRPH. The deteriorating roles of discrimination, in mental health only, and that of Length in the US in both outcomes, however, was primarily not altered by entry of these cultural strength factors. The independent direct effect of racial/ethnic identity among Latinos nationwide may suggest that this cultural strength is an internalized protective asset. Longitudinal data is needed to explore its underlying mechanism and long-term impact.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Hispanic or Latino / ethnology
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Religion
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Identification*
  • Social Support*
  • Young Adult