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Home  >  Medical Research Archives  >  Issue 149  > Language Preference and its Moderating Role in Coping with Stress: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos
Published in the Medical Research Archives
Oct 2023 Issue

Language Preference and its Moderating Role in Coping with Stress: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos

Published on Oct 26, 2023




Stress and stressful events are widely accepted risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases, including coronary heart disease and diabetes. As language plays a seminal role in development and regulation of emotions and appraisals of stressful situations, it may contribute to documented differences in the stress-cardiometabolic disease association across ethnic groups. We investigated associations between language preferences (Spanish vs English) and downstream health consequences of stress. Using data from the Sociocultural Ancillary Study of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, we assessed the relationship between reported stress and risk factors (alcohol use, smoking, body mass index, depressive symptoms) and prevalence of self-reported (coronary heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]) and clinically assessed chronic conditions (diabetes, hypertension) among 5154 Hispanic/Latino adults living in the US. Factor analysis was used to calculate a composite stress variable from participants’ self-reported chronic stress, perceived stress, and adverse childhood experiences. Sampling weights and survey methodology were integrated in all analyses to account for this study’s complex survey design. After controlling for sociodemographic factors (Hispanic/Latino background, study site, years in the US, social acculturation, education, income, age, sex), higher composite stress scores were associated with elevated risk factors and greater prevalence of coronary heart disease, diabetes, and COPD. Furthermore, the relationship between stress and COPD was significantly stronger among Hispanic/Latino adults who preferred to be interviewed in Spanish (compared to English). Stronger connections between stress and likelihood of drinking alcohol among English-preferring persons also emerged. These results are interpreted in light of the Hispanic health paradox and the role of cultural processes in the development of health risk factors and chronic conditions. Our findings can be integrated into relevant approaches to address health disparities within and across Hispanic/Latino populations in the US.

Author info

Morgan Gianola, Maria Llabre, Linda Gallo, Martha Daviglus, Daniela Sotres-alvarez, Neil Schneiderman

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