Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 1518–1525 | Cite as

Stress, Place, and Allostatic Load Among Mexican Immigrant Farmworkers in Oregon

  • Heather H. McClure
  • J. Josh Snodgrass
  • Charles R. MartinezJr.
  • Erica C. Squires
  • Roberto A. Jiménez
  • Laura E. Isiordia
  • J. Mark Eddy
  • Thomas W. McDade
  • Jeon Small
Original Paper


Cumulative exposure to chronic stressors has been shown to contribute to immigrants’ deteriorating health with more time in US residence. Few studies, however, have examined links among common psychosocial stressors for immigrants (e.g., acculturation-related) and contexts of immigrant settlement for physical health. The study investigated relationships among social stressors, stress buffers (e.g., family support), and allostatic load (AL)—a summary measure of physiological “wear and tear”—among 126 adult Mexican immigrant farm workers. Analyses examined social contributors to AL in two locales: (1) White, English-speaking majority sites, and (2) a Mexican immigrant enclave. Our six-point AL scale incorporated immune, cardiovascular, and metabolic measures. Among men and women, older age predicted higher AL. Among women, lower family support related to higher AL in White majority communities only. Findings suggest that Latino immigrants’ cumulative experiences in the US significantly compromise their health, with important differences by community context.


Allostatic load Health Stress Mexican immigrants Place Farm worker Ethnic enclave 



We thank study assessors and participants, Felicia Madimenos for biomarker training assistance, and Lynn Stephen and Frances White for discussions of the project. Support for this project was provided by Grant Nos. R01 DA017937 and R01 DA01965 (Charles R. Martinez, Jr., Principal Investigator) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, US PHS. Support also was provided by the University of Oregon’s Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS). We also appreciate the support of the Oregon Social Learning Center Scientists’ Council, Northwestern University, and the University of Oregon (UO), including the UO chapter of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA).


  1. 1.
    Capps R, Fortuny K. Immigration and child and family policy. A report 2006;
  2. 2.
    U.S. Census Bureau. Dicennial Census, Summary File 1. 2010;
  3. 3.
    MacArthur Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Reaching for a healthier life. 2009; Accessed 2 June 2009.
  4. 4.
    McEwen BS. Seminars in medicine of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: protective and damaging effects of stress mediators. N Engl J Med. 1998;338(3):171–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Seeman TE, Singer BH, Rowe JW, Horwitz R, McEwen BS. Price of adaptation—allostatic load and its health consequences: MacArthur studies of successful aging. Arch Intern Med. 1997;157(19):2259–68.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Geronimus AT. The weathering hypothesis and the health of African-American women and infants: evidence and speculations. Ethn Dis. 1992;2:207–21.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Panter-Brick C, Eggerman M, Mojadidi A, McDade TW. Social stressors, mental health, and physiological stress in an urban elite of young Afghans in Kabul. Am J Hum Biol. 2008;20:627–41.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Crimmins EM, Kim JK, Alley DE, Karlamangla A, Seeman T. Is there a Hispanic paradox in biological risk profiles for poor health? Am J Public Health. 2007;97(7):1305–10.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Geronimus AT, Hicken M, Keene D, Bound J. ‘‘Weathering’’ and age patterns of allostatic load scores among blacks and whites in the United States. Res Pract. 2006;96(5):826–33.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Seeman TE, Singer BH, Ryff CD, Love G, Levy-Storms L. Social relationships, gender, and allostatic load across two age cohorts. Psychosom Med. 2002;64(3):395–406.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Seeman TE, Crimmins E, Huang MH, et al. Cumulative biological risk and socio-economic differences in mortality: MacArthur studies of successful aging. Soc Sci Med. 2004;58(10):1985–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Seplaki C, Goldman N, Weinstein M, Lin Y-H. Measurement of cumulative physiological dysregulation in an older population. Demography. 2006;43(1):165–83.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    McClure HH, Snodgrass JJ, Martinez CR Jr, Eddy JM, Jiménez RA, Isiordia LE. Discrimination, psychosocial stress, and health among Latin American immigrants in Oregon. Am J Hum Biol. 2010;22(3):421–3.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Palloni A, Arias E. Paradox lost: explaining the Hispanic adult mortality advantage. Demography. 2004;41(3):385–415.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Eschbach K, Stimpson J, Kuo YF, Goodwin JS. Mortality of foreign-born and US-born Hispanic adults at younger ages: a reexamination of recent patterns. Am J Public Health. 2007;97(7):1297–304.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hummer RA, Powers DA, Pullum SG, Gossman GL, Frisbie WP. Paradox found (again): infant mortality among the Mexican-origin population in the United States. Demography. 2007;44(3):441–57.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Dixon LB, Sundquist J, Winkleby M. Differences in energy, nutrient, and food intakes in a US sample of Mexican-American women and men: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–1994. Am J Epidemiol. 2000;152:548–57.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Guendelman S, Abrams B. Dietary intake among Mexican-American women: generational differences and a comparison with white non-Hispanic women. Am J Public Health. 1995;85:20–5.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kaestner R, Pearson JA, Keene D, Geronimus AT. Stress, allostatic load, and health of Mexican immigrants. Soc Sci Q. 2009;90(5):1089–111.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Peek MK, Perez N, Stimpson JP. Culture and couples: does partner disability differentially influence mental health across Mexico and the US? In: Angel JL, Torres-Gil F, Markides K, editors. Aging, health, and longevity in the Mexican-origin population. Berlin: Springer; 2012. p. 51–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    de Castro AB, Voss JG, Ruppin A, Dominguez CF, Seixas NS. Stressors among Latino day laborers: a pilot study examining allostatic load. Am Assoc Occup Health Nurses J. 2010;58(5):185–96.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gallo L, Jiménez J, Shivpuri S, Espinosa de los Monteros K, Mills P. Domains of chronic stress, lifestyle factors, and allostatic load in middle-aged Mexican-American women. Ann Behav Med. 2011;41(1):21–31.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Squires EC, McClure HH, Martinez CR, Jr, et al. Diurnal cortisol rhythms among Latino immigrants in Oregon. J Physiol Anthropol. 2012;31:19–28.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Midttveit EC, McClure HH, Snodgrass JJ, et al. Body composition and lifestyle correlates of high sensitivity C-reactive protein among Latino immigrants in Oregon. Am J Hum Biol. 2010;22(2):263.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    McClure HH, Martinez CR Jr, Snodgrass JJ, et al. Discrimination-related stress, blood pressure, and Epstein–Barr virus antibodies among Latin American immigrants in Oregon. J Biosoc Sci. 2010;42(4):433–61.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    McClure HH, Snodgrass JJ, Martinez CR, Jr, Eddy JM, Midttveit EC, Jiménez RA. Psychosocial stress exposure and salivary cortisol among Latino immigrants in Oregon. In: Society for prevention research annual conference. Denver, CO; 2010.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    McDade TW. Challenges and opportunities for integrative health research in the context of culture: a commentary on Gersten. Soc Sci Med. 2008;66:520–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Williams DR, Collins C. Racial residential segregation: a fundamental cause of racial disparities in health. Public Health Rep. 2001;116:404–16.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Acevedo-Garcia D, Lochner KA, Osypuk TL, Subramanian SV. Future directions in residential segregation and health research: a multilevel approach. Am J Public Health. 2003;93(2):215–21.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Osypuk TL, Bates LM, Acevedo-Garcia D. Another Mexican birthweight paradox? the role of residential enclaves and neighborhood poverty in the birthweight of Mexican-origin infants. Soc Sci Med. 2010;70(4):550–60.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Osypuk TL, Roux AVD, Hadley C, Kandula N. Are immigrant enclaves healthy places to live? the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. Soc Sci Med. 2009;69(1):110–20.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Frank R, Cerdá M, Rendón M. Barrios and burbs: residential context and health-risk behaviors among Angeleno adolescents. J Health Soc Behav. 2007;48(3):283–300.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kulis S, Marsiglia FF, Sicotte D, Nieri T. Neighborhood effects on youth substance use in a southwestern city. Sociol Perspect. 2007;50(2):273–301.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Eschbach K, Ostir GV, Patel KV, Markides KS, Goodwin JS. Neighborhood context and mortality among older Mexican Americans: is there a barrio advantage? Am J Public Health. 2004;94(10):1807–12.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Portes A, Rumbaut RG, editors. Legacies: the story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press; 2001.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Portes A, Zhou M. The new second generation: segmented assimilation and its variants. Ann Am Acad. 1993;530:74–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Denner J, Kirby D, Coyle K, Brindis C. The protective role of social capital and cultural norms in Latino communities: a study of adolescent births. Hisp J Behav Sci. 2001;23:3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Finch BK, Kolody B, Vega WA. Perceived discrimination and depression among Mexican-Origin adults in California. J Health Soc Behav. 2000;41(3):295–313.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Kulis S, Marsiglia FF, Nieri T, Sicotte D, Hohmann-Marriott B. Majority rules: the effects of social ethnic composition on substance use by Mexican heritage adolescents. Sociol Focus. 2004;37(4):373–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Suro R, Singer A. Latino growth in metropolitan America: changing patterns, new location. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution; 2002.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Gonzales-Berry EV, Mendoza M. Mexicanos in Oregon: their stories, their lives. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press; 2010.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Stephen L. (PCUN) PyCUdN. The story of PCUN and the farmworker movement in Oregon. Eugene, OR: Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS); 2012.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Stephen L. Conceptualizing transborder communities. In: Rosenblum M, Tichernor D, editors. The handbook of international migration. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2012. p. 456–77.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Stephen L. Transborder lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon. Durham, NC: Duke University Press; 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Martinez CR Jr, McClure HH, Eddy JM. Language brokering contexts and behavioral and emotional adjustment among Latino parents and adolescents. J Early Adolesc. 2009;29(1):71–98.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Prado G, Pantin H, Briones E, et al. A randomized controlled trial of a parent-centered intervention in preventing substance use and HIV risk behaviors in Hispanic adolescents. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2007;75(6):914–26.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Buckwalter JG, Rizzo A, Seeman T, et al. Analyzing the impact of stress: a comparison between a factor analytic and a composite measure of allostatic load. In: Interservice/industry training, simulation, and education conference (I/ITSEC); 2011.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Ho SY, Lam TH, Janus ED. Waist to stature ratio is more strongly associated with cardiovascular risk factors than other simple anthropometric indices. Ann Epidemiol. 2003;13(10):683–91.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    McDade TW, Burhop J, Dohnal J. High sensitivity enzyme immunoassay for C-reactive protein in dried blood spots. Clin Chem. 2004;50:652–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    McDade TW, Stallings JF, Angold A, et al. Epstein–Barr virus antibodies in whole blood spots: a minimally invasive method for assessing an aspect of cell-mediated immunity. Psychosom Med. 2000;62:560–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Martinez CR Jr, Eddy JM. Effects of culturally adapted parent management training on Latino youth behavioral health outcomes. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2005;73(4):841–51.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Cuellar I, Arnold B, Gonzalez G. Cognitive referents of acculturation: assessment of cultural constructs in Mexican Americans. J Community Psychol. 1995;23:339–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Kessler RC, Mickelson KD, Williams DR. The prevalence, distribution, and mental health correlates of perceived discrimination in the United States. J Health Soc Behav. 1999;40(3):208–30.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Sabogal F, Marin G, Otero-Sabogal R, Marin BV, Perez-Stable EJ. Hispanic familism and acculturation: what changes and what doesn’t? Hisp J Behav Sci. 1987;9(4):397–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    U.S. Department of Agriculture. Household Food Security in the United States: Economic Research Service, USDA; 2005.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Peek MK, Cutchin MP, Salinas JJ, et al. Allostatic load among non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and people of Mexican origin: effects of ethnicity, nativity, and acculturation. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(5):940–6.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Cacioppo JT, Patrick W. Human nature and the need for social connection. New York: W.W. Norton; 2008.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Steffen PR, Smith TB, Larson M, Butler L. Acculturation to Western society as a risk factor for high blood pressure: a meta-analytic review. Psychosom Med. 2006;68:386–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Malarkey W, Cacioppo JT, Glaser R. Stressful personal relationships: endocrine and immune function. In: Glaser R, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, editors. Handbook of human stress and immunity. San Diego, CA: Academic Press; 1994. p. 321–39.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Hawkley LC, Bosch JA, Engeland CG, Marucha PT, Cacioppo JT. Loneliness, dsyphoria, stress and immunity: a role of cytokines. In: Plotnikoff NP, Faith RE, Murgo AJ, editors. Cytokines: stress and Immunity. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2007.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Glaser R, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Speicher CE, Holliday JE. Stress, loneliness, and changes in herpesvirus latency. J Behav Med. 1985;8:249–60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    O’Keefe JH, Bybee KA, Lavie CJ. Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the razor-sharp double-edged sword. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007;50:1009–14.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Mukamal KJ, Chen CM, Rao SR, Breslow RA. Alcohol consumption and cardiovascular mortality among U.S. adults, to 2002. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1987;2010(55):1328–35.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Di Castelnuovo A, Costanzo S, Bagnardi V, Donati MB, Iacoviello L, de Gaetano G. Alcohol dosing and total mortality in men and women: an updated meta-analysis of 34 prospective studies. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:2437–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Farquhar S, Shadbeh N, Samples J, Ventura S, Goff N. Occupational conditions and well-being of indigenous farmworkers. Am J Public Health. 2008;98(11):1956–9.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Farquhar SA, Goff NM, Shadbeh N, et al. Occupational health and safety status of indigenous and Latino farmworkers in Oregon. J Agric Saf Health. 2008;15(1):89–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Morello-Frosch R, Shenassa ED. The environmental “riskscape” and social inequality: implications for explaining maternal and child health disparities. Environ Health Perspect. 2006;114(8):1150–3.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather H. McClure
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Josh Snodgrass
    • 2
  • Charles R. MartinezJr.
    • 1
  • Erica C. Squires
    • 2
  • Roberto A. Jiménez
    • 3
  • Laura E. Isiordia
    • 4
  • J. Mark Eddy
    • 5
  • Thomas W. McDade
    • 6
  • Jeon Small
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Equity Promotion, College of Education6215 University of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  3. 3.Farmworker Housing Development CorporationWoodburnUSA
  4. 4.Capaces Leadership InstituteWoodburnUSA
  5. 5.Partners for Our Children, School of Social WorkUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  6. 6.Department of Anthropology and Institute for Policy ResearchNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Personalised recommendations