Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 119–129 | Cite as

Discrimination, Racial/Ethnic Identity, and Substance Use Among Latina/os: Are They Gendered?

  • Kristine M. MolinaEmail author
  • Benita Jackson
  • Noemi Rivera-Olmedo
Original Article



Prior research suggests that stronger racial/ethnic identification offsets negative effects of discrimination on substance use. Yet research in this area and on whether gender modifies this association is limited for Latina/os.


The purpose of the present study is to examine whether different sources of discrimination (everyday and racial/ethnic) are associated with substance use (alcohol use disorder, smoking), if racial/ethnic identity buffers this association, and the potential moderating role of gender among these variables.


We present cross-sectional, US population-based data from the Latina/o adult sample (1427 females and 1127 males) of the National Latino and Asian American Study. Respondents completed self-reported measures of everyday and racial/ethnic discrimination, racial/ethnic identity, smoking status, and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) lifetime alcohol use disorder.


Weighted logistic regression analyses showed that before inclusion of three-way interactions and adjusting for covariates, everyday discrimination predicted increased risk for any DSM-IV lifetime alcohol use disorders. Moderation analyses revealed that the effect of everyday discrimination on the risk of being a current smoker was strongest for Latino men with high levels of racial/ethnic identity compared to those with low racial/ethnic identity. No differences were noted among Latino women. There were no main or interaction effects of racial/ethnic discrimination for any substance use outcome.


Findings suggest differential associations for type of discrimination and outcome and that the role of racial/ethnic identity is gender-specific for smoking, appearing particularly detrimental for Latino men reporting high levels of racial/ethnic identity.


Gender Hispanics Cigarette smoking Alcohol disorders Health behaviors Intersectionality 



Kristine Molina, Ph.D. was partially supported by the K12 Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Career Development Award (Eunice Shriver Kennedy National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant # K12HD055892). Noemi Rivera-Olmedo, B.A., was supported by a Praxis Summer Internship grant provided through Smith College’s Lazarus Center for Career Development.

Authors’ Statement of Conflict of Interest and Adherence to Ethical Standards

Kristine Molina, Benita Jackson, and Noemi Rivera-Olmedo report no conflicts of interest. We obtained access to the NLAAS through the University of Michigan’s Inter-Consortium for Political and Social Research’s (ICPSR) public use database. The institutional review boards of the Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard School of Medicine, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington approved all recruitment, consent, and interviewing procedures for the NLAAS. Secondary data analysis of ICPSR public use data was IRB exempt.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristine M. Molina
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Benita Jackson
    • 2
  • Noemi Rivera-Olmedo
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Community and Prevention Research AreaUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySmith CollegeNorthamptonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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