Is Acculturation in Hispanic Health Research a Flawed Concept?


Carlos Ponce & Brendon Comer

Document Id: WP-60

Some health researchers use the concept of acculturation to try to explain health behaviors or illnesses prevalent among Hispanic people. In this research “Hispanic culture” has often been represented as being associated with inadequate health beliefs and behaviors and poor health. In much of this research, Hispanic culture is viewed as hindering healthy practices. At the same time, other acculturation studies find that Hispanic culture provides health-enhancing elements, such as less permissive sexual behavior, better birth outcomes, or less smoking and substance use. The effect of Hispanic culture on individual health could prove to be an important social element to scrutinize. But we believe that acculturation studies are seriously limited by several basic conceptual and methodological problems that need to be addressed before such knowledge can be achieved.

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