Depressive symptoms and externalizing behaviors among Hispanic immigrant adolescents: Examining longitudinal effects of cultural stress

J Adolesc. 2015 Jul;42:31-9. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2015.03.017. Epub 2015 Apr 18.


This study examined longitudinal effects of cultural stress (a latent factor comprised of bicultural stress, ethnic discrimination, and negative context of reception) on depressive symptoms and a range of externalizing behaviors among recently (≤5 years in the U.S. at baseline) immigrated Hispanic adolescents. A sample of 302 adolescents (53% boys; mean age 14.51 years) completed baseline measures of perceived ethnic discrimination, bicultural stress, and perceived negative context of reception; and outcome measures of depressive symptoms, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, aggressive behavior, and rule-breaking behavior six months post-baseline. A path analysis indicated that higher cultural stress scores predicted higher levels of all outcomes. These effects were consistent across genders, but varied by study site. Specifically, higher cultural stress scores increased depressive symptoms among participants in Miami, but not in Los Angeles. Findings suggest that cultural stress is a clinically relevant predictor of depressive symptoms and externalizing behaviors among Hispanic immigrant adolescents.

Keywords: Conduct problems; Cultural stress; Depressive symptoms; Hispanic adolescents; Immigrants; Substance use.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adolescent
  • Conduct Disorder / ethnology*
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / ethnology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Racism / ethnology*
  • Racism / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Substance-Related Disorders / ethnology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology