Thursday, July 12, 2007
This presentation is part of : Measurement and Instrument Development Models
Measuring Acculturation Through Mixed Methodology: A Roadmap to Discovery
Adelita G. Cantu, PhD, RN, Department of Family Nursing, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA
Learning Objective #1: understand how mixed methods can offer the best opportunities for answering important research questions.
Learning Objective #2: understand the importance of socioenvironmental context in the measurement of acculturation.

Context: Interventions to increase physical activity have met limited success due to the lack of culturally competent interventions. Previous research has demonstrated an association between sedentary behavior and acculturation levels. However traditional acculturation measures use proxy variables to operationalize culture, thus ignoring the context in which acculturation takes place.

Aim: Compare the quantitative measurement of acculturation among a group of physically active and inactive older Mexican American women with qualitative accounts of their acculturation.

Methods: Hazuda’s Acculturation Scale was used to assess acculturation. Life history methodology was used to explain aspects of the acculturation experience that may mediate or moderate physical activity behavior. Mixed methodology was used to better capture the complexity of acculturation.  

Results: 1) women at a low level of acculturation and were physically inactive; 2) women at a high level of acculturation and were physically inactive and 3) women who were physically active and measured at a low level of acculturation. However, qualitative data discovered that in most cases, the influence of “the being there aspect of caregiving” or physical presence was a more important contextual indicator of their physical activity patterns. The quantitative acculturation score alone did not capture this particular mediator for this group of women.   

Conclusions: Proxy acculturation measures do not consistently capture the complexity of the acculturation experience and thus provides an incomplete understanding which can lead to questions about the predictive validity of acculturation on health behavior outcomes. Proxy measures need to be supplemented with contextual factors.  

Implications: Contextual factors derived inductively are needed to understand how acculturation influences individuals. Existing measures must expand indicators to include cognitive processes, cultural changes and socioenvironmental components that may mediate/moderate health behavior. Mixed methodology will create a knowledge base for understanding the influence of acculturation, thus increasing the success rate of culturally competent interventions.