The Texas Department of Health published the semimonthly Disease Prevention News for many years, but publication stopped abruptly back in 2003 in the middle of Volume 63. Under the auspices of the new Texas Department of State Health Services’ Infectious Disease Control Unit (ICDU), publication resumed with Volume 64 Issue 1 in January 2007 and continuing on a roughly monthly publication schedule with a new name: EpiLink Online Bulletin.
An article from the November issue of EpiLink has received some attention in the Spanish-language press after coverage by the Mexican news agency Notimex. The paper in question, “Current perspectives on stress among Latino adolescents” [PDF full text] was prepared by Richard C Cervantes and colleagues for the Annual Conference of the National Hispanic Network on Drug Abuse which took place in September. The paper is a review of research into the stressful living conditions that disproportionately affect Latino youth — including poverty, lack of health insurance, high school drop-out rates, increasing health problems (e.g., obesity), high teenage pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted diseases, increasing rates of HIV infections, substance abuse, and violence — and the present and future effects of that increasing stress on the health of an entire generation of Latinos.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) (Freid et al., 2003), … the highest rates of suicide consideration (26.5%) were for female Latinas. Latino and Latina youth from 9th to 12th grade overall had higher rates of attempted suicide than any other group; the male students were at 8.0% while, again, the female Latina rates (15.9%) were much higher. In an older survey, injurious suicide attempt rates were higher for Latina females 4.2%, followed by Latino males (2.5%), and then African Americans (DHHS, 1990). A study conducted by Rew et al. (2001) revealed that Latina adolescents had the highest rate of suicide attempts compared to other ethnic-gender groups. In addition, Latinas in the study also had relatively high reports of sexual abuse and suicide attempts by family members and friends. Latinas also have alarmingly higher rates of depression (27%). Latinas were the second highest ethnic group to report depressive symptoms. Acculturation stress due to conflictive gender roles in adolescent Latinas is believed to be the driving force of their higher rates of stress, depression and suicidality (National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organization, 1999).
Although the reference list for the review article is impressive and very helpful, it also lays out a compelling case for a more comprehensive research agenda for studying issues such as intergenerational differences in acculturation and their effect on intrafamilial stress, differences between the mental and physical health of “acculturated” vs. “bicultural” Latino adolescents, and the relationship of gender differences in Latino adolescents to stressors, coping skills, resiliency, and mental and physical health.
Here’s an example of the Notimex coverage in Spanish: “Adolescentes hispanos afectados por el estrés” from MetroLatinoUSA, 2007-11-21; and here’s a blog post that reprints English-language coverage of the report from the 2007-11-09 issue of the Rio Grande Guardian (unfortunately, the original article does not appear on the Guardian‘s site now).