It is NOT the case that Hispanics consume alcohol at higher rates than non-Hispanics. In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control reported that Hispanics are less likely than non-Hispanics to have had at least one drink in the past year. Moreover, according to this report Hispanics are less likely than non-Hispanics to consume two or fewer drinks per day, and more often abstain from drinking altogether.

Beer Trio Horizontal by Lindsey G via Creative Commons
Beer Trio Horizontal by Lindsey G via Creative Commons

However, among those who do drink, Hispanics tend to consume more alcohol, on average, compared to non-Hispanics. Hispanic men, in particular, are at considerably elevated risk of heavy drinking compared to the population at large.

Recent years have seen the development of interventions aiming to reduce heavy alcohol consumption in the general population, and recent evidence suggests that attending to cultural factors may enhance treatment effects among Latino men.

That’s where social work assistant professor Yessenia Castro comes in.

Building on prior research conducted by associate professor Craig Field of the University of Texas, El Paso, and supported by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute in Washington, D.C., Castro and Field are collaborating to develop an intervention specifically targeting Latino men in order to find the best culturally adapted approach to treating heavy alcohol consumption.

The approach is based on Brief Motivational Interviewing, that is, short conversations between mental health professionals and patients who have been taken to the hospital as a result of an alcohol-related injury.

“Previous research has shown that the language in which Latino men receive an intervention, or the ethnicity of the therapist who gives the intervention and their own level of acculturation, seem to have effects on how well the intervention worked,” Castro says.

As such, for this project the Brief Motivational Interviewing has been designed and implemented specifically with Latino men in mind.

Interviews take place in the preferred language of the patient and provide recipients with a sense of where they stand in terms of alcohol consumption relative to other Latino men. The brief interviews will also seek to reinforce issues of familismo (the value of being accountable to and responsible for one’s family) and other personal values deemed relevant by the men in order to drive the intervention home.

The project’s goals are reducing overall alcohol use and alcohol problems while increasing help-seeking and treatment utilization in the period following the intervention. In all, the project will involve over 400 participants and data will be collected in El Paso, Texas, through May 2017.

Posted February 8, 2016. By Martin do Nascimento.