Neighborhood characteristics and ataque de nervios: the role of neighborhood violence

Transcult Psychiatry. 2020 Jul 21;1363461520935674. doi: 10.1177/1363461520935674. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Ataque de nervios is a Latina/o idiom of distress that may occur as a culturally sanctioned response to acute stressful experiences, particularly relating to grief, threat, family conflict, and a breakdown in social networks. The contextual factors associated with ataque de nervios have received little attention in research. This study examined the association between neighborhood factors and the experience of ataque de nervios among a sample of Latinas/os participating in the Latino Health and Well-Being Project in the northeastern United States. We examined the association between neighborhood cohesion, safety, trust, and violence and ataque de nervios. In multivariate logistic regression models, neighborhood violence was associated with ataque de nervios (p = .02), with each unit increase in the neighborhood violence scale being associated with 1.36 times greater odds of experiencing ataque de nervios. None of the other neighborhood variables were significantly associated with ataque de nervios. The positive association between neighborhood violence and the experience of ataque de nervios makes a further case for policy efforts and other investments to reduce neighborhood violence.

Keywords: Latinas/os; ataque de nervios; idioms of distress; neighborhood violence.