Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Rick A. Cruz


Rick A. Cruz


Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez


Melissa A. Tehee


Somatic symptoms have been associated with psychological distress across different cultures and are used to diagnose depressive and anxiety disorders in the U.S. Across cultures, individuals with internalizing disorders may present with somatic symptoms outside of the diagnostic criteria, emphasizing the importance of these physical concerns. For example, Latinxs tend to endorse more somatic symptoms than White Americans, suggesting that different cultural aspects may contribute to the higher endorsement of somatic symptoms among Latinxs. However, not many studies have examined specific sociocultural factors that may be influencing somatic symptom report. This is especially true among emerging adults who are in a high-risk period for developing mental illness. This study examined how endorsement of traditional Latinx cultural values and ties to cultural identity related to somatic symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and general somatic distress. Participants were 472 college students between 18-25 years of age. Results showed a negative association between respect for family and negative mood, mainstream comfort and negative mood, as well as mainstream comfort and social concerns, such that higher levels of respect for family and comfort with U.S. mainstream culture were related to lower negative mood associated with depression. A similar pattern emerged where a higher endorsement of mainstream comfort was associated with lower social concerns, a facet of anxiety sensitivity. Finally, there was a significant negative association between respect for family and somatic symptoms, meaning that higher report of respect for family was associated with a lower report in general somatic symptoms that are not necessarily associated with depression or anxiety. The results from the study support previous research that has suggested that different sociocultural factors may be associated with somatic symptoms. This study extends these findings by providing evidence for Latinx young adults in higher education. Cultural values may serve as protective factors and may be important to consider in psychological assessment and treatment. The work from this project also shows the significance of integrative behavioral health, to ensure that all individuals get properly screened for mental health disorders when cultural variables may influence the expression of psychopathology that may not fit the typical mold.