Effects of Social Context, Culture, and Minority Status on Depression and A

Effects of Social Context, Culture and Minority Status on Depression and Anxiety

The proposed project investigates the social mechanisms behind ethnic/racial differences in the prevalence of major depression disorder (MDD) and depressive and anxiety symptoms (DAS) in Latino young adults (ages 17-25). We propose to extend the path-breaking Boricua study, in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico and Columbia University, to examine if experiences of minority status and acculturation are causally linked to differences in prevalence of MDD/DAS across Island versus mainland Puerto Ricans. Since Puerto Ricans are a minority in the South Bronx in NY but a majority on the Island of Puerto Rico, this migrant study design enables us to use variation across sites as a way to examine the causal mechanism of minority status and acculturation on mental health outcomes. Our planned study also includes a wide range of environmental, social, family, and individual level measures associated with MDD and DAS, and uses advanced statistical techniques to identify the risks and protective factors for these negative outcomes.

The Specific Aims of this project are as follows:

  • AIM I: To determine the causal impact of minority status as contrasted to majority status in childhood and early adolescence on risk for MDD and level of DAS during late adolescence and young adulthood;
  • AIM II: To identify the mechanisms behind the effect of minority status on subsequent MDD and DAS in late adolescence and young adulthood. These include early and continued exposure to perceived discrimination and low social position as well as cultural stress in the social context;
  • AIM III: To test conditions that moderate the causal link between minority status and environmental and social context in childhood and early adolescence on subsequent MDD and DAS in late adolescence and young adulthood. These include family history of MDD/DAS, neighborhood affluence, high level of familism, and neighborhood collective efficacy.

Funding Acknowledgement

This study is supported by NIMH Research Grant #R01 MH 098374, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.