Child & Youth Care Forum

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 1–17 | Cite as

Culture Specific Influences on Anxiety in Latino Youth

  • R. Enrique VarelaEmail author
  • Laura A. Niditch
  • Lauren Hensley-Maloney
  • Kathryn W. Moore
  • C. Christiane Creveling
  • Kathryn M. Jones
Original Paper



Accumulating evidence indicates that Latino children and adolescents are at risk for higher anxiety relative to youth of other ethnicities. However, to date, very little research has been conducted to examine culture specific mechanisms of anxiety in Latino youth.


This study explored whether strict adherence to Latino cultural values emphasizing maintenance of group harmony, familismo and simpatia, in combination with poor awareness and identification of negative emotions predicts increased anxiety among Latino youth.


Familismo, simpatia, poor emotion awareness, and anxiety were measured in a mixed clinically anxious (n = 27) and non-clinical (n = 20) sample of 7–13 year-old Latino children. Anxiety was measured through self-report and mother report.


Two way interactions between familismo and simpatia, and between poor emotion awareness and simpatia predicted anxiety level. Graphs of the interactions indicated that the combination of high levels of each variable was associated with the highest levels of child-reported anxiety, while high familismo in the context of low simpatia was associated with low anxiety levels per child and parent report. In contrast, low simpatia in the context of poor emotion awareness was associated with low mother-reported child anxiety.


Strict adherence to cultural values emphasizing family cohesion and positive interdependent social experiences in combination with poor emotion awareness are linked to anxiety in Latino youth.


Anxiety Children Latino Culture Emotion regulation 



This study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (50R03MH076874-01 A2) to first author.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesLoyola UniversityNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA
  3. 3.Grayson and Associates PCBirminghamUSA
  4. 4.Providence Saint John’s Health Center - Child and Family Development CenterSanta MonicaUSA
  5. 5.Creveling-Benefield, LLC/YourPsych360New OrleansUSA
  6. 6.Pediatric Behavioral HealthCleveland ClinicClevelandUSA

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