The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 119–134 | Cite as

Psychoecological Model of Alcohol Use in Mexican American Adolescents

  • Heejung Chun
  • Esther Devall
  • Patricia Sandau-Beckler
Original Paper


In this study, we proposed and tested a structural model based on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory in order to further understand alcohol use among Hispanic adolescents, who are at greater risk of alcohol use than adolescents of other racial/ethnic groups. Family cohesion, school connectedness, and peer influence were conceptualized as three primary process factors, while psychological distress was used as a mediating factor and Mexican culture orientation as a cultural factor. The sample comprised 444 Mexican American adolescents (aged 16–20) living along the U.S./Mexico border. The proposed model explained 33 % of the variance in alcohol use. Most of the hypothesized relationships in the proposed model were supported: (a) low family cohesion had significant indirect effects mediated through psychological distress, poor school connectedness, and negative peer influence; (b) poor school connectedness had significant indirect effects mediated through psychological distress and negative peer influence; (c) psychological distress had a significant direct effect as well as a significant indirect effect mediated through negative peer influence; and (d) negative peer influence had the strongest direct effect. However, contrary to the hypothesis, Mexican culture orientation was not a protective factor, but rather had a significant positive relationship with negative peer influence. Lastly, it was found that gender, school status, Anglo cultural orientation, and severity of alcohol use did not have any moderating effects. Based on the collective findings, suggestions for primary prevention programs designed to reduce underage drinking among Mexican American youth were given.


Mexican American adolescents Alcohol use Psychoecological model Cultural orientation 



This research was partially supported by grant 1461 from the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation, Center for Border Health Research, 1100 N. Stanton #410, El Paso, TX 79902.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heejung Chun
    • 1
  • Esther Devall
    • 2
  • Patricia Sandau-Beckler
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Counseling and Educational PsychologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, MSC 3470New Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  3. 3.School of Social WorkNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

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