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Predictors of Everyday Functioning Among Older Mexican Americans vs. Anglo-Americans With Schizophrenia

J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(14):1304-1311

Objective: We assessed clinical, demographic, and cognitive predictors of everyday functioning in Mexican American and Anglo-American outpatients with schizophrenia.

Method: Three groups of participants aged 40 years and over with a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were compared: 79 Anglo-Americans, 24 Mexican American patients who chose to be tested in English, and 33 Mexican American patients who preferred Spanish. The study was conducted from October 2001 to July 2004.

Results: On demographic, clinical, cognitive, and functional measures, Anglo-American participants were generally similar to Mexican American participants who opted for being tested in English. Mexican American participants who preferred Spanish were significantly different from the other 2 groups on several measures, including everyday functioning performance. To determine the predictors of everyday functioning, separate regression analyses were conducted for each of the 3 groups. Cognitive ability consistently accounted for the greatest proportion of variance in performance regardless of ethnicity, language preference, or education. Among the Mexican American participants, level of acculturation was the second strongest predictor of everyday functioning when the group was examined as a whole; however, acculturation was not a significant predictor when controlling for language preference.

Conclusion: Cognitive performance and language preference (a proxy for acculturation) may play a particularly important role in predicting ability to perform everyday tasks. Further studies to better understand the potential impact of ethnicity, culture, education, and language on everyday functioning may help develop more specific and culture-sensitive intervention strategies for different ethnic groups.