Pina-Watson, Brandy Michelle (2014-05). The Influence of Caregiver-Child Acculturation Gap on Mexican American Adolescents' Depression and Suicidality. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Latino adolescents are at an elevated risk of depression and suicidality when compared to their European American and African American counterparts. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine cultural and familial risk and protective processes in Latino adolescents' lives that impact depression and suicidality. In the first part of the dissertation, an enhanced conceptual model of the acculturation gap hypothesis is presented that builds upon previous research. Specifically, the modified conceptual model highlights the importance of examining: acculturation mulitdimensionally (i.e., cognitively, behaviorally and affectively); the impact of this gap on both female and male caregiver relationships; acknowledging the reality of the familial composition of many Latino youth's lives which include broadening the acculturation gap hypothesis to include primary caregivers regardless of biological relation; the role of positive and negative caregiver-child relationships on depression and suicidality; and the possible moderating effect that ethnic group membership and gender may play on this model. Based on the enhanced acculturation gap model, the second part of this dissertation tests a resiliency model that investigates the impact caregiver-child acculturation gaps have on caregiver-child connectedness and conflict, depression and suicidality for Mexican American adolescents. Data was collected on 524 Mexican American adolescents (46.9% male; 53.1% female) ranging from 14 to 20 years (M = 16.23 years; SD = 1.10 years) who attended high school in a midsized south Texas city. The hypothesized model had acceptable model fit [x^(2) (59, 524) = 66.50, p > .05; x^(2)/df =1.13; CFI = .97; TLI = .96; & RMSEA = .02] and did not vary by gender. Direct and indirect paths indicated that there is support for the acculturation gap hypothesis when considering the effect of the cognitive acculturation dimensions of familismo and gender role beliefs on the caregiver-child relationship, depression and suicidality for Mexican American adolescents. The results are discussed based on their application to future research, as well as suicide and depression intervention and prevention programming.

publication date

  • May 2014