Depression and Risk for Problem Drinking in Latino Migrant Day Laborers

Subst Use Misuse. 2017 Aug 24;52(10):1320-1327. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2016.1276599. Epub 2017 Mar 27.


Background: Given the structural vulnerability of Latino migrant day laborers (LMDLs) to unstable and poorly paying work, harsh living conditions and frequent inability to support or even visit families in country of origin, psychological distress is a common response and one frequently implicated in risky outcomes such as problem drinking.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the relation of three different forms of psychological distress to problem drinking in LMDLs: depression, anxiety, and desesperación, the latter a popular Latino culture-based idiom of psychological distress.

Methods: A cross sectional survey of 344 LMDLs was conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area from January to June of 2014. Independent contributions of depression, anxiety, and desesperación in explaining problem drinking as measured by a modified version of the AUDIT, were assessed using multiple linear regression analysis.

Results: Depression was significantly associated with risk for problem drinking while other forms of psychological distress were not. Conclusion/Importance: Findings provide stronger empirical support for the association between depression and problem drinking, a long suspected but under-demonstrated relationship in the literature on LMDLs. Implications for preventing problem drinking as well as mitigating psychological distress more generally for LMDLs are discussed.

Keywords: Latinos; alcohol use; anxiety; depression; desesperación; migrant day laborers; structural vulnerability.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • San Francisco
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Transients and Migrants / psychology*
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult