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Study examines drinking behavior in newly arrived Latinas

July 12, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A University at Albany study suggests that recently arrived Hispanic female immigrants could benefit from a culturally sensitive brief motivational intervention targeting alcohol use. The study, published in the Journal of Immigrant Minority Health, found high levels of culture-related stress among young Latina women who drank higher quantities of alcohol on a typical drinking occasion.

This creates a paradox in which these young immigrants who drink to reduce stress are actually experiencing exacerbated stress. “Few interventions have been developed to assist recently arrived Latina immigrants in their transition to U.S. society, but our study demonstrates that this is a critical time period for health promotion,” university doctoral student Melissa Ertl said in a July 11 news release.

The study tracked alcohol use among more than 500 Latina women ages 18 to 23 during a 90-day period in their first year in the U.S. Stress in this population is related to factors such as separation from social supports and the encountering of conflicts between the norms of their traditional and receiving culture.

The researchers also found that Latinas who maintained traditional beliefs that they should remain the primary source of strength for their family tended to experience the highest levels of acculturative stress.