Mexican Americans represent the largest subpopulation among Latinx persons and experience numerous health inequalities for psychological symptoms and behavioral health problems. First generation Mexican Americans are particularly vulnerable to such disparities and past work suggests that the experience of acculturative stress may play a vital role in terms of mental and physical health problems among this population. The current study sought to bridge past work on acculturative stress among first-generation Mexican Americans by exploring the role of anxiety sensitivity (AS; fear of the negative consequences of internal sensations) as a potential mediational factor in terms of psychological and behavioral health problems among this group.
The current study consisted of 369 first generation Mexican American persons (86.2% female, 40.1 years of age (SD = 11.1) years in the U.S. attending a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center located in an urban southwestern community. We explored whether AS served as a mediator between acculturative stress and some of the most common and disabling clinical problems among this group, including social anxiety, anxious arousal, general depression, insomnia and pain intensity and disability.
Consistent with prediction, there was a statistically significant indirect effect of acculturative stress via AS across all criterion variables apart from pain intensity (depression [ab = − 0.17, SE = 0.05, 95% CI [0.08, 0.26]], insomnia [ab = 0.07, SE = 0.02, 95% CI [0.03, 0.10]], social anxiety [ab 0.05, SE = 0.02, 95% CI [0.02, 0.08]], anxious arousal [ab = 0.08, SE = 0.03, 95% CI [0.03, 0.12]], pain disability [ab = 0.05, SE = 0.02, 95% CI [0.02, 0.09]]). Comparative models were run to evaluate the specificity of hypothesized statistically significant models. For all models except anxious arousal and general depression, the alternative model was rejected, adding support to the hypothesized pathway.
Overall, this work provides initial support for the role of AS in terms of the relation between acculturative stress and numerous psychological and behavioral health problems among Mexican American adults in a clinical setting.