Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Acculturation as a Predictor of Health Promoting and Lifestyle Practices of Arab Americans: A Descriptive Study

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Acculturation as a Predictor of Health Promoting and Lifestyle Practices of Arab Americans: A Descriptive Study

Article excerpt

Abstract: A cross-sectional descriptive study was done using the Acculturation Rating scale of Arab Americans-ll, and the Health Promotion and Lifestyle Profile H to assess the relationship between acculturation and health promotion practices among Arab Americans. Findings showed that attraction to American culture was the most important predictor of physical activity; whereas attraction to Arabic culture was the most important predictor of stress management and nutritional practices. Results suggest that, when demographics are controlled, acculturation predicts various health promotion practices in different patterns among members of this group. These findings contribute to a better understanding of acculturation's influence on immigrants' health promotion practices.

Key Words: Acculturation, Health-promotion practices, Arab Americans, HPLP 11.


Acculturation is described as the dual process of cultural and psychological change that takes place as a result of contact between two or more cultural groups and their individual members (Berry, 2003). The process of acculturation is unique to each immigrant group (Berry) and is influenced by variables that are dependent on the cultural and sociopolitical characteristics of not only the ethnic group but also those of the dominant group (Berry).

Recent models of acculturation acknowledge that immigrants use different strategies to acculturate. Berry (2003) identifies four strategies in which acculturation occurs: The first is assimilation, which refers to complete acquisition of the dominant culture and lack of immigrants' interest in maintaining their own culture. The second is integration, whicn refers to embracing, valuing and integrating both the dominant and ethnic culture. The third is separation, which refers to the maintenance of immigrants' ethnic culture and rejecting or avoiding contact with the dominant culture. The fourth strategy is marginalization, which refers to the disconnection or exclusion of immigrants, whether voluntary or not, from their ethnic as well as the dominant culture (Berry, 2003).

Acculturation influences immigrants' health and health practices (Lara, Gamboa, Kahramanian, Morales, & Bautista, 2005). More specifically, health promotion practices have been connected to immigrants' level of acculturation and demographic characteristics (Hulme et al., 2003). Health promotion refers to an approach that is focused on health rather than on illness and recognizes the multidimensional nature of health. Health promotion and lifestyle practices are directed toward sustaining or increasing individuals' level of well-being, self-actualization, and personal fulfillment (Walker, Sechrist, & Pender, 1987). Studies have shown that health promotion practices are closely connected to prevention of chronic diseases and improved well-being (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2010).

Numerous studies have focused on investigating immigrants' health promotion-related behaviors such as exercise and physical activity, cancer screening, and dietary habits (Abraido-Lanza, Chao, & Florez, 2005; Acevedo, 2000; Marks, Garcia, & Solis, 1990). Although not consistent, most literature looking at the relationship between acculturation and health promotion practices reveals an overall positive influence of higher levels of acculturation on cancer screening (Crespo, Smit, CarterPorkas, & Andersen, 2001 ) and exercise practices (Marks et al., 1990) and a negative influence on smoking, alcohol use, dietary habits, and disease prevention practices (Edelman, Christian, & Mosca, 2009; Gordon-Larsen, Harris, Ward, & Popkin, 2003; Wilkinson et al., 2005 ). California (CA) is one of the most diverse states in the United States. An estimated 26.9% of its population is foreign born (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009); CA is home to the largest number of Arab Americans, estimated at one million (Arab American Institute [AAI], n. …

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