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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Researchers Develop Bi-Dimensional Simpatía Scale for Use with Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American Adults

Research led by Dr. Rachel Davis, assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health) has resulted in a bilingual, survey-based simpatía scale. The study was published in the journal, Nursing Research.

“Simpatía, which does not have a direct English translation, refers to being perceived as likeable, pleasant and easy-going,” Dr. Davis says. “Through its influence on social interactions, simpatía may have a wide-ranging influence on Latinx health.”

There is limited previous research on the influence of simpatía on Latinx health — largely due to a lack of options for measuring simpatía among diverse Latinx populations. This study sought to develop a bilingual, survey-based simpatía scale for use among ethnically diverse Latinx adults in health related settings.

Dr. Davis and her team obtained data through a telephone survey (in English and Spanish) of nearly 1300 Mexican-American, Puerto-Rican and Cuban-American adults living in the U.S. The researchers developed a 9-item simpatía scale that demonstrated a high internal consistency and measurement invariance among the three groups of participants.

Their findings resulted in two dimensions, as indicated by a perceptions subscale and behavior subscale. The authors concluded that Cuban Americans had the highest simpatía scores, followed by Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans.

“Culture is often identified as a powerful potential influence on health-related behaviors, but measures are often not available to assess specific cultural traits,” Dr. Davis says. “By developing a new tool for measuring simpatía, this research advances opportunities for understanding and promoting Latinx health.”