Academic journal article Family Relations

Prevention Research and Latino Families: Resources for Researchers and Practitioners

Academic journal article Family Relations

Prevention Research and Latino Families: Resources for Researchers and Practitioners

Article excerpt


This article reviews cultural and methodological considerations when developing effective preventive interventions among Latino families. A prevention approach guides the discussion of five key issues in prevention science, including (a) the role of risk and protective factors, (b) fidelity and adaptation strategies, (c) program effectiveness, (d) methodological consideration, and (e) bridging prevention research and practice. An annotated bibliography complements our discussion of conceptual and methodological considerations and prevention and intervention practices when working with Latinos.

Key Words: families, Latino, prevention, research and practice, resources.

Latinos/Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnically underrepresented population. Projections suggest that by the year 2050, Latinos will constitute nearly a quarter of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000, 2004). The growth rate of the Latino population is almost four times higher than the total U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003) and the number of Latinos rose from 22.4 million in 1990 to 35.3 million in 2000, representing an increase of 58% in a decade. Between 2003 and 2004, Hispanics accounted for about one half of the national population growth of 2.9 million (U.S. Census Bureau, 2005). Demographic trends also indicate that the Hispanic population is younger than the nonHispanic White population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003) and that Latinos are disproportionally affected by poverty, discrimination, stress, and limited access to health care services (Amaro & Cortes, 2003; Quinn, 2000; Ramirez & de la Cruz, 2002).

Evidence from prevention science can inform researchers and practitioners by guiding the development, implementation, and evaluation of culturally relevant programs and policies targeting the reduction of mental health, behavioral, and psychiatric disorders among Latinos. A prevention approach is based on the notion that it is important to reduce (or eliminate) risk factors and increase (or promote) protective factors. Social ecology theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1977; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1997) further grounds a prevention emphasis and is often recognized as a contemporary approach to study development and problem behavior among youth and families (Small & Memmo, 2004). It assumes that risk and protective factors have the potential to shape individual development by enriching or impoverishing settings in which individuals live (i.e., family, peer group, school, community, culture). In the next section, implications of key issues in prevention science are discussed as applied to the study of Latino individuals, families, and communities. An Appendix follows our discussion of these issues, comprising an annotated bibliography of methodological and programmatic resources for a wide range of family and health professionals.

Key Issues in Prevention Research With Latinos

Prevention research becomes increasingly important as knowledge is built to address and understand individual and family development among a rapidly growing Latino population. In order to successfully respond to the needs of Latino families, key prevention science issues include (a) investigation of the role of culturally relevant risk and protective factors, (b) examination of fidelity and adaptation strategies used to adapt programs targeting the Latino population, (c) evaluation of the generalizability of prevention and intervention effects between ethnic groups and within Latino subgroups, (d) use of methodologically centered approaches to maximize the adequacy and validity of research findings, and (e) strategies to build a bridge between prevention scientists and practitioners addressing the needs of the Latino population.

Risk and Protective Factors

Evidence suggests that the most effective prevention programs are those tailored to the most salient risk and protective factors for a particular group. …

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