Puerto Ricans and Mexican immigrants differ in their psychological responses to patterns of lifetime adversity

Daniel K. Cooper, Mayra Bámaca-Colbert, Eric K. Layland, Emily G. Simpson, Benjamin L. Bayly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background Puerto Ricans and Mexican immigrants are often exposed to multiple types of adversity across their lifetime (e.g., maltreatment, household dysfunction, discrimination) and this exposure can increase the risk for adult mental health problems. Purpose The objective of this study was to (a) identify subgroups of individuals exposed to unique combinations of childhood adversity and lifetime discrimination among Puerto Ricans and Mexican immigrants, and (b) compare the prevalence of mental health problems across different risk profiles. Method We used existing data from the HCHS/SOL Sociocultural Ancillary Study. Participants included Puerto Rican (N = 402) and Mexican adults (N = 1351) born outside but living in the continental U.S. Findings Through latent profile analysis, we selected a three-profile solution for Puerto Ricans: (a) Low Exposure (low on all adversity items; 58% of sample), (b) Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Only (high on ACEs items, average or lower than average on discrimination items; 32%), and (c) Dual Exposure (high on all adversity items; 10%). For Mexicans, we selected a four-profile solution: (a) Low Exposure (52%), (b) ACEs Only (24%), (c) Maltreatment and Discrimination (15%), and (d) Dual Exposure (9%). For Mexicans, we found that the Dual Exposure and the Maltreatment and Discrimination profiles had the highest levels of mental health problems. For Puerto Ricans, the Dual Exposure and ACEs Only profiles had the highest levels of mental health problems, suggesting that Puerto Ricans may be more vulnerable to the effects of childhood adversities as compared to Mexican immigrants. Results from our study indicate that different patterns of adversity exposure are linked to different levels of mental health outcomes, and therefore, may require different intervention dosage. Understanding which groups of individuals are at highest and lowest risk for mental health problems is critical for developing effective, tailored interventions to prevent the negative effects of childhood adversity and discrimination for Latinxs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0258324
JournalPloS one
Issue number10 October
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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