Eco-Developmental Theory

Posted on January 20, 2009

Guillermo J. Prado (bio) describes how the interaction of multiple systems affects acculturation of immigrants.


Eco-developmental theory is a theory that was conceptualized by some of my colleagues at the Center for Family Studies by Hilda Pantin, and it extends some of the work of other researchers, Bronfenbrenner, social ecological model. And basically what it hypothesizes is that, in this case since I' m working with adolescents, is that adolescent risk factors come from different types of systems, from those systems that are most proximal, for example the family system, the peer system, and the school system. All three of those systems directly impact an adolescent's health outcomes. To those systems that are most distal to the adolescents, for example the macro systems such things such as culture.

So for example, for recent immigrants, acculturation, the process from which they acculturate from being Hispanic to being Americanized, that process also has an impact on their health outcome such as drug use for example. So all the different systems interacting with each other over time creates this eco-developmental theory, and what we believe is that risk factors trickle down from the most distal to the most proximal system.

We focus predominantly on the family micro system, and again because in most of these studies we're evaluating the efficacy of a family intervention. So we tend to focus on family functioning and communication, family support, involvement. But we also do attend, to a lesser extent, peer micro systems and school systems, for example academic achievement or peer substance use. We do attend to those as well.

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Excerpted from an interview with researcher at the 2008 National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse Conference in Bethesda, MD.


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