Adolescent Latino Acculturation Study

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

How do Latino families who have immigrated to the U.S. adapt to life in this country?

Project Overview

The ALAS study is a research project designed to learn more about how Latino families who have immigrated to the United States adapt to life in this country. We know that parents usually adapt or “acculturate” to a new culture and language at a much slower rate than their children. We want to learn how that difference in acculturation rates affects the relationship between parents and their children. We also want to know if this difference places the children at any higher risk for behaviors such as substance use, gang involvement and poor performance in school. To carry out this study, we recruited 225 Latino families with youngsters in grades 6 – 10 who were born in Latin America. Each family was involved with the study for three years and took part in a number of interviews, both in person and over the telephone. Data from this study will help us better understand what kinds of programs and policies can most help immigrant families as they make the often-difficult transition from their countries of origin to life in the United States.

Year Project Began: 2005
Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Principal Investigator

Charles Martinez Jr., Ph.D.

Senior Fellow Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. Charles R. Martinez, Jr. is a clinical psychologist, professor, and department head in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Oregon, where he also directs the Center for Equity Promotion. He served as the University of Oregon Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity from 2005 to 2011, and also served as a senior scientist at the non-profit Oregon Social Learning Center where he founded and directed the center’s Latino Research Team beginning in 1999. He has served as a publicly elected member of the Eugene, District 4J School Board and is currently serving as a Governor appointed member of the Oregon State Board of Education representing Oregon’s 4th congressional district.

His substantive interests center on identifying factors that promote healthy adjustment for families and children following stressful life events, (e.g. changes in family structure, socioeconomic status, physical and/or emotional health, acculturation, and immigration status), taking into consideration the cultural contexts in which families operate. He has led numerous NIH and internationally funded research projects designed to examine risk and protective factors involved in linking acculturation to education and behavioral health outcomes for Latino children and families and to develop and test culturally specific interventions for at-risk families in the U.S. and in Latin America. His main areas of published work include substantive and methodological topics related to cultural issues in prevention science, Latino education and behavioral health disparities, links between acculturation and discrimination on substance use and academic failure prevention, culturally specific family based interventions, the role of biosocial stress markers on family outcomes, and family process. He is a nationally known consultant on organizational diversity issues, cross-cultural research, and community engagement.  He teaches courses in equity, multicultural education, leading for diversity, prevention science, and Latino family health and education. Dr. Martinez has received numerous national, state, and local awards for his work, including the “Community, Culture, and Prevention Science Award” and the “International Collaborative Prevention Research Award” from the Society for Prevention Research.