Committee: Sandra Ball-Rokeach
, Chair Margaret McLaughlin
, Kwan Min Lee
, Thomas Valente
Acculturation and Latino Immigrants’ Health Attitudes and Behaviors: A Bi-Dimensional Acculturation Model
This dissertation examines the effect of acculturation on Latino health disparity based on a bi-dimensional model of acculturation. First, the author reviews the literature of acculturation and introduces two models of acculturation: uni-dimensional and bi-dimensional models of acculturation. The author critiques previous studies in public health by pointing out that this scholarship predominantly relied on an uni-dimensional model of acculturation, consequently ignoring bilingual groups, which is currently almost half of the Latino population in the U.S.
Next, this dissertation applied a bi-dimensional model of acculturation in the health disparity discipline and empirically tests the effect of acculturation on Latino health attitudes and behaviors regarding diabetes, obesity, and substance use. First, the comparison among bilinguals, English monolinguals and Spanish monolinguals reveals their differences in terms of their health access, health status, health problem solving capacities, and healthy behavior and lifestyle. Second, the author investigates the communication environment in which the three groups (i.e., English monolinguals, Spanish monolinguals, and bilinguals) are situated and their health information seeking behaviors.
The result of the study shows that bilinguals are clearly different from English monolinguals and Spanish monolinguals in terms of many health attitudes and behaviors. It suggests that when the comparison goes beyond a binary model (English and Spanish speakers) and bilinguals are not disregarded, it may provide more accurate explanation of the effect of acculturation. Discussion about the limitations and implications of the study follows.