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Profiles of acculturation among Hispanics in the United States: links with discrimination and substance use

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Recent research suggests that acculturation is a multifaceted construct with implications for substance use among Hispanics. However, few, if any, studies examining profiles of acculturation have been conducted using national samples. Moreover, no cluster-based studies have examined how acculturation relates to discrimination and substance use disorders among Hispanics in the United States.


The present study, employing Wave 2 data on Hispanics (n = 6,359) from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions, aims to address these gaps. We use latent profile analysis to identify profiles of acculturation among Hispanics in the United States and, in turn, examine the relationships between membership in these profiles and experiences of discrimination and the prevalence of substance use disorders.


A five-class solution was the optimal modeling of the data. Classes were identified as Class 1: Spanish-dominant/strongly separated (17 %), Class 2: Spanish-dominant/separated (18 %), Class 3: bilingual/bicultural (33 %), Class 4: English-dominant/bicultural (16 %), and Class 5: English-dominant/assimilated (16 %). Bilingual/bicultural Hispanics (Class 3) reported the highest prevalence of discrimination (31 %). Spanish-language dominant Hispanics (Classes 1 and 2) reported the lowest prevalence of substance use disorders. Significant differences in the prevalence of substance use disorders were observed between the bilingual/bicultural (Class 3) and English-dominant/assimilated classes (Class 5), but no differences were noted between the two English-dominant classes (Classes 4 and 5).


Study findings indicate that acculturation is heterogeneous in its expression among Hispanics and suggest that Hispanics who maintain their Spanish-language capacity are at a substantially lower risk for a variety of substance use disorders.

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Correspondence to Christopher P. Salas-Wright.

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Salas-Wright, C.P., Clark, T.T., Vaughn, M.G. et al. Profiles of acculturation among Hispanics in the United States: links with discrimination and substance use. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 50, 39–49 (2015).

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