Dr. Azara Santiago Rivera

Dr. Azara Santiago RiveraTitle

Latino Adults and Depression: Assessment Challenges
June 21, 2018 (Thursday), 11:00-12:30 CDT


One of the major challenges often faced by clinicians is identifying the appropriate measure to accurately assess depression in Latino adults. There are a number of reasons for this difficulty. The diversity within the Latino population makes it difficult to establish measurement equivalence because there are cultural differences in the meaning and expression of the symptoms of depression. For instance, Noguera et al. (2009) explored which Spanish language terms better described depressed mood and found that the term desanimado [discouraged] rather than the term deprimido which is considered the literal translation of “depressed” in English was preferred. These findings suggest that accurately screening for depression must take into consideration the specific meaning of words in the Spanish language. Efforts to investigate measurement equivalence have yielded promising results but there is still much more research needed in this area. The presentation will: 1) describe some of the broad issues with respect to culture, language and gender, 2) address some of the challenges associated with measurement equivalence, 3) highlight a four step model (Fernandez, 2007) for identifying and selecting translated psychological measures, and 4) discuss future directions.

Fernandez, K., Boccaccini, M.T., & Noland, R.M. (2007). Professionally responsible test selection for Spanish-speaking clients: A four-step approach for identifying and selecting translated tests. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38, 363-374.

Noguera, A., Centeno, C., Caravajal, A., Tejedor, M.A.P., Urdiroz, J., & Martinez, M. (2009). “Are you discouraged? Are you anxious, nervous, or uneasy?”: In Spanish some words could be better than others for depression and anxiety screening. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 12, 707-712.


Azara Santiago Rivera, PhD. is the Director of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program at Merrimack College. Her publications and research interests include multicultural issues in the counseling profession, bilingual therapy, Latinos and depression, and the impact of environmental contamination on the bio-psychosocial well-being of Native Americans. More recent research interests center on issues regarding the assessment of depression in Latino adults, including older adults with dementia. Dr. Santiago Rivera has presented on these topics at major conferences and has published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Journal of Counseling and Development, the Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Environment of Psychology, and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. She is a past- President of the National Latino/a Psychological Association, an American Psychological Association (APA) affiliated association. She is the Founding Editor of the Journal of Latina/o Psychology (APA journal) and is a Fellow of Divisions 45 and 17 of APA. In 2014, Dr. Santiago Rivera received the APA Presidential Citation for outstanding contribution to the profession. 

  1. Describe some of the broad issues with respect to culture, language and gender
  2. Identify some of the challenges associated with measurement equivalence
  3. Highlight a four step model (Fernandez, 2007) for identifying and selecting translated psychological measures
  4. Discuss ethical considerations and future directions.