Bicultural stress and adolescent risk behaviors in a community sample of Latinos and non-Latino European Americans

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93 Scopus citations


Objectives. The study examined the relation between adolescent risk behaviors and bicultural stress due to discrimination, immigration, and acculturation factors. We hypothesized bicultural stress would be related to increased risk behavior and depressive symptoms independent of socioeconomic status, ethnic self-identification, and acculturation. Design. Middle school student participants (n=519; median age 14) completed a self-report questionnaire on their risk behaviors, psychosocial antecedents, and socio-demographic factors. Latino (304) and non-Latino European American (215) students were surveyed through a large, urban, West Coast US school district. Results. More bicultural stress was significantly related to reports of all risk behaviors (i.e. smoking, drinking, drug use, and violence) and depressive symptoms. Further, bicultural stress was a robust explanatory variable across sub-groups, and appears largely independent from depressive symptoms. Conclusion. The hypotheses were supported. Bicultural stress appears to be an important underlying factor for health disparities among US adolescents. Future research may consider promoting well-being in majority, as well as minority adolescents, through targeting sources of bicultural stressors or examining ways to moderate their effects on adolescent risk behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-463
Number of pages21
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Adolescent
  • Bicultural
  • Health Disparities
  • Risk Behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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