The proposed project investigates the social mechanisms behind ethnic/racial differences in the prevalence of major depression disorder (MDD) and depressive and anxiety symptoms (DAS) in Latino young adults (ages 17-25). We propose to extend the path-breaking Boricua study to examine if experiences of minority status and acculturation are causally linked to differences in prevalence of MDD/DAS across Island versus mainland Puerto Ricans. Since Puerto Ricans are a minority in the South Bronx in NY but a majority on the Island of Puerto Rico, this migrant study design enables us to use variation across sites as a way to examine the causal mechanism of minority status and acculturation on mental health outcomes. Our planned study also includes a wide range of environmental, social, family, and individual level measures associated with MDD and DAS, and uses advanced statistical techniques to identify the risks and protective factors for these negative outcomes. We propose to conduct follow-up interviews with parents and with young adults now ages 17-25 who participated in the Boricua study. Using these data, we will conduct quantitative analysis to: 1) determine the causal impact of minority status as contrasted to majority status, 2) identify the mechanisms behind the effect of minority status on subsequent MDD and DAS, and 3) test conditions that moderate the causal link between minority status and environmental and social context. We will supplement the quantitative analysis with in- depth qualitative interviews and ethnographic neighborhood observation to deepen our understanding of the quantitative findings and identify minority status experiences and acculturation stresses potentially related to changes in MDD and DAS, as well as functional impairment. At the close of our study we intend to create a public-use database of the four waves of Boricua study. This would be the first longitudinal study to assess the causal effects of early experiences of minority status and acculturation on Latino young adult mental illness. Our ultimate goal is to generate information to reduce mental illness in minority communities.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed longitudinal project is the first to investigate the long-term effects of early experiences of minority status and acculturation on Latino young-adult mental illness. It holds much promise for understanding the individual, family and neighborhood-level factors to target for interventions to prevent the onset of major depression disorder and anxiety and depressive symptoms in minority youth and young adults.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-I (03))
Program Officer
Rubio, Mercedes
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Cambridge Health Alliance
United States
Zip Code
Scorza, Pamela; Duarte, Cristiane S; Hipwell, Alison E et al. (2018) Research Review: Intergenerational transmission of disadvantage: epigenetics and parents' childhoods as the first exposure. J Child Psychol Psychiatry :
Okuda, Mayumi; Martins, Silvia S; Wall, Melanie M et al. (2018) Do parenting behaviors modify the way sensation seeking influences antisocial behaviors? J Child Psychol Psychiatry :
Vidal, Carmen; Polo, Ruth; Alvarez, Kiara et al. (2018) Co-Occurrence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Cardiovascular Disease Among Ethnic/Racial Groups in the United States. Psychosom Med 80:680-688
Wei, Chiaying; Eisenberg, Ruth E; Ramos-Olazagasti, María A et al. (2017) Developmental Psychopathology in a Racial/Ethnic Minority Group: Are Cultural Risks Relevant? J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 56:1081-1088.e1
Alegría, Margarita; Álvarez, Kiara; DiMarzio, Karissa (2017) Immigration and Mental Health. Curr Epidemiol Rep 4:145-155
Ramos-Olazagasti, María A; Bird, Héctor R; Canino, Glorisa J et al. (2017) Childhood Adversity and Early Initiation of Alcohol Use in Two Representative Samples of Puerto Rican Youth. J Youth Adolesc 46:28-44
Santesteban-Echarri, Olga; Ramos-Olazagasti, María A; Eisenberg, Ruth E et al. (2017) Parental warmth and psychiatric disorders among Puerto Rican children in two different socio-cultural contexts. J Psychiatr Res 87:30-36
Levison, Julie H; Alegría, Margarita (2016) Shifting the HIV Training and Research Paradigm to Address Disparities in HIV Outcomes. AIDS Behav 20 Suppl 2:265-72
Santesteban-Echarri, Olga; Eisenberg, Ruth E; Bird, Hector R et al. (2016) Family Structure, Transitions and Psychiatric Disorders Among Puerto Rican Children. J Child Fam Stud 25:3417-3429
Fortuna, L R; Álvarez, K; Ramos Ortiz, Z et al. (2016) Mental health, migration stressors and suicidal ideation among Latino immigrants in Spain and the United States. Eur Psychiatry 36:15-22

Showing the most recent 10 out of 20 publications