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Latinos, especially immigrant Latinos, have lower mortality rates and some better health outcomes than U.S.-born Latinos and whites, a situation called the Latino Paradox. One explanation for the advantage is that Latinos’ family orientation protects health. However, because few large-scale studies examine Latinos’ family relationships by nativity, the extent to which family factors contribute to Latinos’ health outcomes is unclear. Additionally, while a large literature focuses on family cohesion, fewer studies address both cohesion and conflict, which may be particularly important among immigrants, whose migration and adaptation experiences can strain family relations. This study examines the relationship between family context and U.S. Latinos’ physical health outcomes. Using nationally representative data on Latinos, it explores the relationship between chronic conditions and activity limitation and nativity, ethnicity, and family factors—both subjective, such as cohesion and conflict, and objective, such as household size, marital status, and language spoken with family. Results reveal that family conflict in particular is related to poorer health. Furthermore, objective measures of family context, such as marital status and household size, do not capture the effects of family relationships (cohesion, conflict, social support). These findings emphasize the importance of family relationships and the need for makers of both immigration and health policy to take into account the complex effects of these relationships on society from a public health perspective.


This article was originally published in Journal of Field Actions Science Reports, special issue 2, in 2010.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



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