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Health risk behavior and cultural stress among Venezuelan youth: a person centered approach



In recent years, more than 5 million Venezuelans have left their once prosperous country, with several hundred thousand settling in the United States (US). At present, our understanding of the health risk behavior profiles of Venezuelan émigré youth, and their links with cultural stress, remains limited.


Drawing from a sample of recently-immigrated Venezuelan youth in the US, we aim to identify subtypes of youth according to their involvement in health risk behaviors (i.e., substance use, sexual risk behavior, violence) and assess the associations between class membership and key constructs related to cultural stress theory (i.e., negative context of reception, family communication/support).


Latent profile analysis and multinomial regression were performed using data from a community-based convenience sample of 402 recently-arrived Venezuelan immigrant youth (ages 10–17; 56% male).


We identified five subtype classes: (1) “Abstainer” (36%), (2) “Alcohol Only” (24%), (3) “Alcohol/Tobacco” (24%), (4) “Aggression” (8%), and (5) “Multidimensional Risk” (8%). Compared to Class #1, youth in Classes #3 and #5 reported significantly higher levels of negative context of reception and lower levels of family functioning while controlling for demographic factors. Youth in Class #5 reported the lowest levels of family economic hardship and the longest duration in the US.


It is vital that we support both Venezuelan youth who abstain from risk behavior and, at the same time, develop and implement programs that target the needs of those who are at elevated risk for serious consequences related to substance use, sexual risk behavior, and violence.

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Funding was provided by National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant no: DA030310) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (Grant no: K01 AA026645).

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Correspondence to Christopher P. Salas-Wright.

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Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number DA030310. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Salas-Wright, C.P., Goings, T.C., Vaughn, M.G. et al. Health risk behavior and cultural stress among Venezuelan youth: a person centered approach. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 56, 219–228 (2021).

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  • Venezuela
  • Immigrants
  • Alcohol
  • Sexual risk behavior
  • Cultural stress
  • Adolescent