Alcohol and drug use are widespread among American adolescents, but even more prevalent among Hispanic youth in the United States. “Familias Unidas is a Hispanic-specific, family based, substance use (including alcohol and drugs) preventive intervention,” said David Cordova of the Center for Family Studies at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami. “Consistent with Hispanic cultural values, Familias Unidas places parents in positions of leadership and expertise in helping to prevent alcohol and drug use in youth by increasing positive parenting, family support of the adolescent, parental involvement, general parent-adolescent communication and parent-adolescent communication regarding substance use.”
The program has been quite effective overall, but has not been scrutinized closely. “Thus, to tailor interventions aimed to maximize efficacy in Hispanic populations, there remains the need to examine moderating factors such as nativity status, which has been shown to moderate intervention effects in other interventions,” said Cordova. “Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether the effects of Familias Unidas, compared to community practice, on Hispanic adolescent alcohol and drug use vary by nativity status (i.e., U.S.-born and foreign-born).”
Cordova and his colleagues assessed over 200 Hispanic American adolescents, half of whom had been born in the U.S., and half of whom had not. He found that nativity status had a direct effect on treatment outcome. “Specifically, whereas intervention effects on alcohol use were significant for U.S.-born Hispanics, no effects were found for foreign-born Hispanics.” Cordova added, “Although from baseline to 6-month follow up, parental monitoring of peers was significant for both U.S.-born and foreign-born participants, these effects were not sustained long-term for foreign-born participants.” He concluded by saying, “Thus, preventive interventions tailored for foreign-born participants may seek to further highlight the importance of parental peer monitoring within the context of the U.S., as well as to help foreign-born parents retain country-of-origin values (e.g., parental monitoring of peers), as they learn to navigate and balance U.S. cultural norms.”
Cordova, D., Huang, S., Pantin, H., & Prado, G. (2011, December 5). Do the Effects of a Family Intervention on Alcohol and Drug Use Vary by Nativity Status?. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026438
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