Acute salivary cortisol response among Mexican American adolescents in immigrant families

Su Yeong Kim, Minyu Zhang, Katharine H. Zeiders, Lester Sim, Marci E.J. Gleason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Though previous research has indicated that language brokering can be stressful, the findings are mixed, pointing to potential moderators of the association. Guided by an ecological perspective, we examined the role of individual, family, and environmental factors in Mexican American adolescents? acute cortisol responses to language brokering. Method: The study consisted of 46 Mexican American adolescents recruited around a metropolitan city in Central Texas. Participants translated a difficult medical document from English to Spanish for their parents, followed by an arithmetic task (modeled after the Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]). Participants' perceptions (perceived efficacy and parental dependence), parental hostility, and discrimination experiences were assessed via self-report and were examined as moderators of adolescents' responses to the task. Results: Results revealed differential responses to the task based on individual, family, and environmental factors. High efficacy and low dependence-parental hostility-discrimination related to stress responses characterized by low baselines, steeper reactivity, and faster recovery. Low efficacy and high dependence related to greater baseline stress and a slower recovery. High levels of parental hostility related to a slower recovery. High levels of discrimination related to greater baseline stress. Conclusions: The study demonstrates that the modified TSST task can elicit an acute hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis response, but the nature of this response is dependent upon participants' perceptions of language brokering (parental dependence and efficacy), parental hostility, and discrimination experiences. Adolescents' individual characteristics and contextual demands remain important considerations in understanding their acute stress responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-520
Number of pages11
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • acute stress
  • cortisol
  • discrimination
  • language brokering
  • Mexican American

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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