Awarded New Investigator/Doctoral Dissertation Grant


Homicide and suicide are the second and third leading causes of death among Hispanic youth in the United States. Understanding the mechanisms that influence the risk of inter- and intra-personal violence among this population will help inform prevention. The process of acculturation, or adapting to American culture, is an important but poorly understood factor influencing violence among Hispanic families. Objectives: The primary goal of this research is to determine the association between the acculturation level of Hispanic youth in the United States and their risk for physical assault, and suicidal behavior. The secondary goal is to determine the association between acculturation level and known risk factors and protective factors for physical assault, and suicidal behavior, such as drug and alcohol use, access to firearms, social support, and community support. Study Design: The National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) is a nationally representative, prospective study of American adolescents in grades 7 through 12. Initial in-home interviews were conducted with 20,745 students in 1994 and 1995 with a second survey in 1996. Add Health over-sampled minorities and includes 3,525 Hispanics. Main Exposure: Acculturation, measured by proportion of life in the United States, language spoken at home, language of the survey, and generational status. Outcome Measures: Violence, measured by whether an individual was involved in a serious physical fight, seriously thought about committing suicide, or attempted suicide. Analysis: Logistic regression models will be used to determine the association between acculturation level at Wave I, and physical assault and suicidal behavior between Wave I and Wave II. Significance: Violence is a leading cause of mortality among Hispanic youth, but little research has been conducted to examine the risk and protective factors specific to this population. This research will advance our understanding of the role of acculturation in violence among Hispanic youth.