Nativity and DSM-IV psychiatric disorders among Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and non-Latino Whites in the United States: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions

Margarita Alegria, Glorisa Canino, Frederick S Stinson, Bridget F Grant
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2006, 67 (1): 56-65

OBJECTIVE: This study examined the risk of lifetime substance use disorders and mood and anxiety disorders between Island-born Puerto Ricans, foreign-born Cuban Americans, and foreign-born non-Latino whites and their U.S.-born counterparts.

METHOD: Data from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC; N = 43,093) were used to derive lifetime prevalence rates of specific DSM-IV psychiatric disorders by subethnicity and nativity group. Logistic regression models were constructed to detect variation in the odds of each psychiatric disorder across groups.

RESULTS: A protective effect of foreign-born nativity in risk for psychiatric disorders was present for all groups but varied according to the assessed disorder. For non-Latino whites, the effect was observed for most specific psychiatric disorders, whereas, for Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans, the effect was only evident for specific substance use disorders.

CONCLUSION: The protective effect of nativity against psychiatric morbidity found in other studies among Mexican Americans and non-Latino whites does not entirely generalize to Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans and may not generalize to individuals of other origins. The results of this study are discussed in terms of potential mechanisms involved in variations in the risk of specific psychiatric disorders among groups defined by nativity and race-ethnicity and the importance of identifying specific cultural components that may serve as risk and protective factors of psychiatric morbidity.

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