Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Objective: Research on Latino youth with spina bifida (SB) is sparse. However, SB rates are highest in this ethnic group, and typically-developing (TD) Latino youth are at risk for poor psychosocial functioning. The aims of this study were to examine: (1) differences in psychosocial and family functioning between Latino and non-Latino Caucasian youth with SB; (2) family functioning as a predictor of youth psychosocial functioning as moderated by ethnicity; (3) the impact of acculturation on youth psychosocial and family functioning in Latino youth with SB. Methods: Participants were recruited as part of a larger, longitudinal study (Devine et al., 2012). The study's sample included 74 non-Latino Caucasian youth with SB and 39 Latino youth with SB (M age= 11.53, 52.2% female). This study included parent-, teacher-, and youth- report on internalizing and externalizing symptoms, social competence and acceptance, friendship quality, and family cohesion, conflict, and stress. Observational data of family interaction tasks were also included. All data were available at Time 1 and two years later at Time 2. Analyses controlled for SES and youth IQ. Results: Latino youth demonstrated fewer externalizing symptoms and less social competence, and Latino families demonstrated less family conflict. For non-Latino Caucasian youth, greater family cohesion predicted greater youth social competence and greater family stress predicted greater youth internalizing symptoms. For Latino youth, higher levels of mother acculturation predicted greater youth externalizing symptoms and less family cohesion. Conclusions: Compared to non-Latino Caucasian youth with SB, Latino youth with SB demonstrate similar or better levels of psychosocial functioning, their families demonstrate less family conflict, and family functioning is less predictive of psychosocial functioning overtime. Levels of mother acculturation impact aspects of psychosocial and family functioning for Latino youth. Results have implications for how family-based interventions may be adapted for Latino families of youth with SB.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.