Familismo and adolescent health: the role of key cultural and familial processes on Latino youth substance use
A secondary data analysis was conducted to investigate the direct and indirect effects of family traditionalism, family cohesion, and parent involvement on alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use in a sample of pre-adolescent youth (N = 635) and their parents (N = 462). Aim one hypothesized that family cohesion and family traditionalism would be indicators of a higher order construct, operationalized as familismo. Aims two and three hypothesized that family traditionalism, family cohesion, and parent involvement would be protective against youth substance use. Finally, aim four hypothesized that acculturation would decrease the protective effects of family traditionalism and family cohesion on substance use.
Using second order confirmatory factor analysis, aim one found that family cohesion and family traditionalism were indicators of a second order structure. Regarding aims two and three, a consistent significant association was found between family cohesion and parent involvement across alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use outcomes. As well, family cohesion was significantly and inversely associated with past 30-day alcohol use amount ( = -.21, p < 0.05), lifetime alcohol use ( = -.19, p < 0.05), and lifetime marijuana use ( = -.31, p < 0.001). Counter to what was hypothesized, a significant positive relationship between family traditionalism and past 30-day alcohol use amount was found. No significant indirect effects were found. Specific to aim four, significant moderation effects were found between family cohesion and acculturation on alcohol and cigarette use. Higher acculturated youth had greater past 30-day alcohol and cigarette use amount compared to low acculturated youth; as family cohesion increased, alcohol and cigarette use for both low and high-acculturated youth decreased.
This study has important implications for social work and future research specific to culture, family, and youth substance use. This study may assist direct social work practitioners, school personnel, and other professionals that work with Latino youth and families in the tailoring of services that are culturally sensitive and relevant to this population and provides further understanding regarding the impact of culture and family on Latino youth substance use. Findings and limitations are discussed specific to social work practice, policy, and research.