Familism and inflammatory processes in African American, Latino, and White youth

Jessica J. Chiang*, Edith Chen, Adam K.K. Leigh, Lauren C. Hoffer, Phoebe H. Lam, Gregory E. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: African Americans and Latinos make up the two largest minority groups in the United States, and compared with Whites, these ethnic minority groups face disproportionate risk for certain physical health problems. However, factors that may protect these groups against early risk for poor health are not entirely understood. Familism, which emphasizes family interdependence and commitment, and is more prevalent among Latino and African American families, may be one such factor. The current study examined whether values and behaviors related to familism were differentially associated with inflammatory processes among White, African American, and Latino youth. Method: Participants were 257 youth who completed measures of familism values and behaviors and whose parents reported on their ethnicity. Participants also provided blood samples for the assessment of proinflammatory cytokine responses to bacterial challenge and of sensitivity to anti-inflammatory features of cortisol and interleukin (IL)-10. Results: Significant familism values and behaviors by ethnicity interactions were observed. For Latino and African American youth but not for White youth, more familism values were associated with greater sensitivity to IL-10. Additionally, for African American youth, more familism behaviors were associated with decreased cytokine responses to bacterial challenge and greater sensitivity to cortisol and IL-10. By contrast, familism behaviors were associated with lower sensitivity to cortisol in White youth and were not associated with any inflammatory outcomes in Latino youth. Conclusion: This pattern of findings suggests that for African American youth and to some extent for Latino youth, familism values and behaviors may be protective against the elevated risk for poor health they face.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-317
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Ethnicity
  • Family
  • Health disparities
  • Inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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