Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 114–131 | Cite as

Cultural Stress, Emotional well-being, and Health Risk Behaviors among Recent Immigrant Latinx families: The Moderating Role of Perceived Neighborhood Characteristics

  • Elma I. Lorenzo-BlancoEmail author
  • Alan Meca
  • Jennifer B. Unger
  • José Szapocznik
  • Miguel Ángel Cano
  • Sabrina E. Des Rosiers
  • Seth J. Schwartz
Empirical Research


Latinx families can experience cultural stressors, which can negatively influence their emotional and behavioral health. Few studies have examined if perceived neighborhood characteristics buffer against or exacerbate the negative effects of cultural stress on adolescent and parent health outcomes. To address this gap in the literature, this study investigated how parent (social cohesion, informal social control, extent of problems) and adolescent (support) perceived neighborhood factors moderated the associations of parent and adolescent cultural stress with parent and adolescent emotional and behavioral well-being. Data came from waves 1 and 3 of a six-wave longitudinal survey with 302 recent immigrant Latinx adolescents (47% female, Mage = 14.51 years) and their parents (74% mothers, Mage = 41.09 years). Results indicated that when parents reported low levels of neighborhood problems, adolescent cultural stress did not predict adolescent health risk behaviors. However, adolescent and parent cultural stress predicted higher levels of adolescents’ sense of hope when parents perceived low levels of neighborhood problems. Furthermore, adolescent and parent cultural stress predicted higher youth depressive symptoms and health risk behaviors when positive neighborhood factors (informal social control, social cohesion) were high. Similarly, adolescent and parent cultural stress predicted lower adolescents’ sense of hope and self-esteem when positive neighborhood factors were high. These findings indicate that efforts to reduce the negative effects of cultural stress on youth emotional and behavioral health may benefit from combating neighborhood problems. Results further indicate that research is needed to clarify unexpected findings. Directions for future research are discussed.


Ethnic discrimination Negative context of reception Acculturative stress Neighborhood context Latina/o Emotional and behavioral health 



Preparation of this manuscript was supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (Grant DA025694). It was also supported by the National Institute of Health/Fogarty International Center (Grant # 3R01TW009274-04S1).

Authors' contributions

E.L.B. conceived the study, participated in its design, conducted analyses, interpreted the data, and wrote up the results, and other parts of the manuscript. A.M. assisted with the design, data analysis and manuscript preparation. M.A.C., J.S., S.D.R. assisted with study conceptualization, manuscript preparation, and interpretation of findings. J.B. and S.J.S. designed the survey study, oversaw data collection, helped with the conceptualization of the study, assisted with the interpretation of findings and manuscript preparation. All the authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Data sharing and declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available and will not be deposited.

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

  • Elma I. Lorenzo-Blanco
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alan Meca
    • 2
  • Jennifer B. Unger
    • 3
  • José Szapocznik
    • 4
  • Miguel Ángel Cano
    • 5
  • Sabrina E. Des Rosiers
    • 6
  • Seth J. Schwartz
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family SciencesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Health Promotion and Disease PreventionUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Miller School of MedicineUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  5. 5.Department of EpidemiologyFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyBarry UniversityMiami ShoresUSA
  7. 7.Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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