Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Social Work

Advisor's Name

Mario De La Rosa

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Mark Macgowan

Advisor's Name

Eric Wagner

Advisor's Name

Frank Dillon

Advisor's Name

Elena Bastida

Keywords

Religiosity, Religious Coping, Latino, Immigrant, Acculturation, Substance Use, HIV risk

Date of Defense

3-21-2012

Abstract

This study examines the influence of acculturative stress on substance use and HIV risk behaviors among recent Latino immigrants. The central hypothesis of the study is that specific religious coping mechanisms influence the relationship that acculturative stress has on the substance use and HIV-risk behaviors of recent Latino immigrants. Within the Latino culture religiosity is a pervasive force, guiding attitudes, behaviors, and even social interactions. When controlling for education and socioeconomic status, Latinos have been found to use religious coping mechanisms more frequently than their Non-Latino White counterparts. In addition, less acculturated Latinos use religious coping strategies more frequently than those with higher levels of acculturation. Given its prominent role in Latino culture, it appears probable that this mechanism may prove to be influential during difficult life transitions, such as those experienced during the immigration process. This study examines the moderating influence of specific religious coping mechanisms on the relationship between acculturative stress and substance use/HIV risk behaviors of recent Latino immigrants. Analyses for the present study were conducted with wave 2 data from an ongoing longitudinal study investigating associations between pre-immigration factors and health behavior trajectories of recent Latino immigrants. Structural equation and zero-inflated Poisson modeling were implemented to test the specified models and examine the nature of the relationship among the variables. Moderating effects were found for negative religious coping. Higher levels of negative religious coping strengthened an inverse relationship between acculturative stress and substance use. Results also indicated direct relationships between religious coping mechanisms and substance use. External and positive religious coping were inversely related to substance use. Negative religious coping was positively related to substance use. This study aims to contribute knowledge of how religious coping influence’s the adaptation process of recent Latino immigrants. Expanding scientific understanding as to the function and effect of these coping mechanisms could lead to enhanced culturally relevant approaches in service delivery among Latino populations. Furthermore this knowledge could inform research about specific cognitions and behaviors that need to be targeted in prevention and treatment programs with this population.

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