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01-05-2007 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2007

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 4/2007

Internalizing Symptoms in Latinos: The Role of Anxiety Sensitivity

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 4/2007
R. Enrique Varela, Carl F. Weems, Steven L. Berman, Lauren Hensley, Maria Clara Rodriguez de Bernal
Belangrijke opmerkingen
R. Enrique Varela, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology at Tulane University. He received his PhD from the University of Kansas Clinical Child Psychology Program. His research interests are cross cultural manifestations of childhood anxiety and parenting practices in Latin American families. He is also interested in adherence issues in chronically ill children.
Carl F. Weems, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Orleans. He received his PhD from Florida International University and did post doctoral work at Stanford Medical School. His research focuses on the developmental psychopathology of anxiety and depression. In particular, his research integrates developmental, cognitive, biological and behavioral theories in attempting to understand the etiology and course of internalizing disorders in childhood. Special areas of interest include the assessment and treatment of childhood anxiety disorders, the role of cognitive behavioral development, brain function, and cognitive processing in anxiety and depression.
Steven L. Berman, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida. He received his PhD from Florida International University. His research interests are identity development including associated anxiety and distress, cross-national comparisons, and the development of identity interventions.
Lauren Hensley, MS, is a graduate student in psychology at Tulane University. Her main research interest is anxiety development, with a focus on anxiety sensitivity and children’s responses to traumatic events.
Maria Clara Rodriguez de Bernal, MS, is an assistant professor of psychology at Universidad de la Sabana, Bogota, Colombia. Her research interests are in the area of program evaluation dealing with anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder in particular.


Latin American youth in the United States tend to report more internalizing symptoms than white non-Latino youth, yet little is known about the factors that may contribute to such differences. The present study examined the role that anxiety sensitivity, gender, and ethnic minority status may play in the expression of internalizing symptoms across Latin American adolescents (n = 116) and white non-Latino adolescents (n = 72) in the United States and Colombian adolescents in Colombia (n = 163). Results provide evidence that because fear of anxiety related phenomena and physiological symptoms of anxiety in particular may be normative in Latino culture anxiety sensitivity does not amplify somatic complaints for Latin American and Colombian youth as it does for white non-Latino youth. Results further suggest that anxiety sensitivity and being female predicted anxiety and depressive symptoms independent of cultural background. Implications of the findings to our understanding of cultural variability in internalizing symptoms are discussed.

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