Date of Award

Fall 2002

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Heather A Turner


Latinos have been identified as a population at high risk of developing mental health problems. However, studies on Latinos rarely address differences between subgroups. There are important social and cultural differences between subgroups that are likely to be reflected in differential expressions of depressive symptoms. The fast growing Dominican community in the United States is one subgroup of Latinos that has been understudied and underserved.

The objectives of this dissertation were to explore among Dominicans: (1) the direct and indirect effects of sociodemographic factors and skin tone on psychological distress; (2) the relationships between various stressors (economic, perceived discrimination, and acculturative) and psychological distress; and (3) the role of social support and mastery as stress moderators. Data for this study was collected from a non-probability sample of 120 Dominicans living in the Greater Boston Area of Massachusetts.

Bivariate analyses revealed that, being female, having completed the 12th grade or less, speaking more Spanish (i.e., being less acculturated), reporting greater perceived group discrimination in employment, being unemployed, having a lower income, and having greater financial strain was significantly related to depressive symptomatology. Results from regression analyses suggest that unemployment and lower income explain the relationships between gender, educational status, low acculturation, perceived group discrimination in employment and depressive symptomatology. Mastery in turn, appears to explain the relationship between income and depression. Additional analyses showed that instrumental support had a moderating effect on both financial strain and perceived group discrimination in employment. Instrumental support is particularly important in reducing symptoms of depression in the context of high financial strain and greater perception of group discrimination in employment. This study contributes to the research literature on Dominicans and depression, and provides new directions for research and the creation of prevention and intervention models.