Acculturation, Stress and Birth Outcomes in Mexican and Mexican American Women
Paulette A. Chaponniere, PhD, MPH, RN

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Chaponniere, P. A.,(2016). Acculturation, stress and birth outcomes in Mexican and Mexican American women. Online Journal of Cultural Competence in Nursing and Healthcare, 6(1), 52-69. doi: 10.9730/


This study examined the relationships between stress, stress bu ers, acculturation and birth outcomes of infants born to 81 Mexican and Mexican American women living in West Michigan.

An interrupted times series design was used to collect data prior to labor and delivery. Neuman’s Systems Model was used as the theoretical framework as it illustrates how stress impacts health outcomes. Women were recruited from local health and community agencies. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish as desired by the subject using standardized questionnaires.

Acculturation was negatively correlated with age (r = -.378, p < 0.001) and social support (r = -.258, p = .02). Bicultural women had the highest mean birth weight, and very Mexican–oriented women had the longest gestation. The third trimester of pregnancy was significantly different from the second trimester for stress, coping and social support. The women least integrated in either culture, e.g. marginalized (ARSMA-II), had the most stress. Spiritual coping predicted weight (β = .278) while pregnancy distress (β = -.237) and sense of belonging (β = -.258) predicted length of gestation.

Pregnancy-related distress was able to pene- trate all lines of defense and impacted the core per Neuman’s Systems Model. Women who had strong spiritual coping and a sense of belonging were able to defect stress and thus protect their core resulting in healthy birth outcomes. Nurses could thus promote healthier birth outcomes by focusing on social support and coping, especially with women who are culturally marginalized. These results add to the understanding of the Latino paradox.

Keywords: acculturation, Latino paradox, pregnancy-related stress, social support, coping, optimism, birth weight and gestation, Neuman’s Systems Model

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