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Sociocultural influences on mental health service use by Latino older adults for emotional distress: Exploring the mediating and moderating role of informal social support


  • Hansen, Marissa C.
  • Aranda, María P.


This study investigated the determinants of mental health services for emotional distress by low-income older Latinos living in Los Angeles County (United States). The functional effects of informal support on service use were tested while accounting for dimensions of support and sociocultural factors. Using data from a cross-sectional survey of older Latinos (n = 235), we preformed a secondary data analysis using path analysis with Poisson regression to assess mediation and moderation models by type of perceived support, emotional and instrumental. Data was originally collected between 1998 and 2005. Results indicated that no mediation effects were present however significant moderation effects emerged. Respondents with low levels of linguistic acculturation and informal support used fewer services. Variations by type of informal support emerged, with emotional support presenting the best model fit compared to instrumental support in the moderation model analysis. The direct effects of linguistic acculturation and age remained significant after controlling for need. Findings reveal limited informal support is a risk factor for the underutilization of mental health services by older Latinos with low levels of linguistic acculturation as they age. Integrating support resources that assist in navigating service systems and address language barriers can enhance service use by older Latino adults. Implications for service delivery and program development are discussed.

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  • Hansen, Marissa C. & Aranda, María P., 2012. "Sociocultural influences on mental health service use by Latino older adults for emotional distress: Exploring the mediating and moderating role of informal social support," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2134-2142.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:12:p:2134-2142
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.06.029

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomson, Maria D. & Hoffman-Goetz, Laurie, 2009. "Defining and measuring acculturation: A systematic review of public health studies with Hispanic populations in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(7), pages 983-991, October.
    2. Reindl Benjamins, Maureen & Brown, Carolyn, 2004. "Religion and preventative health care utilization among the elderly," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 109-118, January.
    3. Pescosolido, Bernice A. & Gardner, Carol Brooks & Lubell, Keri M., 1998. "How people get into mental health services: Stories of choice, coercion and "muddling through" from "first-timers"," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 275-286, January.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2006.087197_7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Katherine L. Fiori & Toni C. Antonucci & Kai S. Cortina, 2006. "Social Network Typologies and Mental Health Among Older Adults," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 61(1), pages 25-32.
    6. Mulvaney-Day, Norah E. & Alegría, Margarita & Sribney, William, 2007. "Social cohesion, social support, and health among Latinos in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 477-495, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Philip Baiden & Wendy Dunnen & Barbara Fallon, 2017. "Examining the Independent Effect of Social Support on Unmet Mental Healthcare Needs Among Canadians: Findings from a Population-Based Study," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 130(3), pages 1229-1246, February.


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