Reducing the Risk of Internalizing Symptoms among High-risk Hispanic Youth through a Family Intervention: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Tatiana Perrino*, Hilda Pantin, Shi Huang, Ahnalee Brincks, C. Hendricks Brown, Guillermo Prado

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Familias Unidas is an intervention that has been found to be efficacious in preventing and reducing substance use, sexual risk, and problem behaviors among Hispanic youth. While it does not specifically target youth internalizing symptoms, the intervention works to strengthen parenting and family factors associated with reduced risk of internalizing symptoms (i.e., depression, anxiety symptoms). This study examines the effects of Familias Unidas on internalizing symptoms among high-risk youth, as well as the role of family level factors in the intervention's effects. A total of 242 12-17-year-old Hispanic youth with a history of delinquency and their primary caregivers were recruited from the school and juvenile justice systems, and randomly assigned to the Familias Unidas intervention or community practice control. A linear latent growth model was used to examine intervention effects on the trajectory of adolescent internalizing symptoms from baseline to 6 and 12 months post-baseline. Results show that the Familias Unidas intervention was more efficacious than control in reducing youth internalizing symptoms. Baseline youth externalizing and internalizing symptoms did not moderate the intervention's effects on the trajectory of youth internalizing symptoms. While parent-adolescent communication did not significantly moderate the intervention's effects, changes in parent-adolescent communication mediated the intervention's effects on internalizing symptoms, showing stronger intervention effects for youth starting with poorer communication. Findings indicate that the Familias Unidas intervention can reduce internalizing symptoms among high-risk Hispanic youth, and that improving parent-youth communication, a protective family factor, may be one of the mechanisms by which the intervention influences youth internalizing symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-106
Number of pages16
JournalFamily process
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Depression
  • Family
  • Hispanic
  • Internalizing Symptoms
  • Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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