The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 30, Issue 3–4, pp 371–393 | Cite as

Acculturation and Adjustment in Latino Adolescents: How Cultural Risk Factors and Assets Influence Multiple Domains of Adolescent Mental Health

  • Paul SmokowskiEmail author
  • Rachel L. Buchanan
  • Martica L. Bacallao
Original Paper


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among risk factors, cultural assets, and Latino adolescent mental health outcomes. We extend past research by using a longitudinal design and evaluating direct and moderated acculturation effects across a range of internalizing, externalizing, and academic engagement outcomes. The sample consisted of 281 Latino/a youths and one of their parents in metropolitan, small town, and rural areas within North Carolina and Arizona. The length of time the adolescent was in the U.S. was positively related to humiliation, aggression, and school bonding. Adolescent U.S. cultural involvement and parent culture of origin involvement were not significantly related to adolescent mental health or school bonding. Parent U.S. involvement had an inverse association with adolescent social problems, aggression, and anxiety. Adolescent culture of origin involvement was positively related to adolescent self-esteem 1 year later. Inverse relationships were found for the link between adolescent culture of origin involvement and hopelessness, social problems, and aggression 1 year later. Implications for prevention programming and policy development are discussed.


Latinos Adolescents Mental health Immigrants Acculturation Culture 



The authors wish to thank Dr. Flavio Marsiglia and Monica Parsai, M.S.W. for their work collecting data in Arizona and Melissa Chalot, M.P.H. for project management. Special thanks go to the Latino families who participated in this study. This study was supported by grants from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (R49/CCR42172-02) and from the Centers for Disease Control’s Office of the Director (1K01 CE000496-01).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Smokowski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rachel L. Buchanan
    • 2
  • Martica L. Bacallao
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Social Work, University of North Carolina – Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Salisbury UniversitySalisburyUSA
  3. 3.University of North CarolinaGreensboroUSA

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