Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Rick A. Cruz


Rick A. Cruz


Ginger Lockhart


Melanie Domenech Rodríguez


Mexican-origin youth represent a large and growing ethnic minority subgroup, and have disparate risk for early initiation of substance use. Therefore, it is crucial to understand factors that can prevent them from the initiation of substance use at an early age. Previous research has identified positive sibling relationships, lower rates of older sibling deviant behavior, and high levels of family values as important protective factors relevant for early substance use risk for European American youth. However, few studies have examined these influences among Mexican origin adolescents, and generalizability cannot be assumed given the notable differences between Mexican origin and EuropeanAmerican siblings. For example, Mexican origin siblings spend more time together than European-American siblings, and are shaped by many cultural factors, such as traditional family values (familism). The goal of this study was to understand the potential explanatory and interactive effects of familism and sibling relationships on Mexican origin youths’ intentions for using substances. I hypothesized that sibling relationship quality would serve as both a partial mediator and moderator between familism and ATOD use intentions, and that higher levels of older sibling deviance would partially mediate and/or moderate the association between familism and younger sibling ATOD use intentions.

I used secondary data to analyze 409 pre-adolescent Mexican origin youth recruited from a metropolitan area in Northern California. None of our hypothesized models were confirmed. Specifically, negative sibling relationship quality did not serve as a moderator (b = -.27, SE = .87, OR = .77, p = .77), nor a mediator (b = -.01, SE = .04, 95% CI = -0.12, .05). between familism and ATOD use intentions. Further, older sibling deviant behavior did not serve as a moderator (b = .38, SEb = .94, OR = 1.47, p = .68), nor a mediator (b = -.00, SE = .04, 95% CI = -0.10, .05) between familism and ATOD use intentions. Despite the null findings, this study has important clinical implications, including the recommendation to promote sibling relationships in prevention programs for Latino youth. There were several limitations of the study which are discussed along with suggestions for future research directions.



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