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Dimensions of Acculturation and Sexual Health among U.S. Hispanic Youth

Description: Hispanic youth living in the U.S. share a disproportionate burden of risk for HIV, other STIs, and teen pregnancies. They also tend to report lower rates of condom use and higher rates of inconsistent condom use than other racial/ethnic groups. Furthermore, immigrant Hispanic adolescents experience a unique burden of sexual risk compared to their non-immigrant counterparts. These negative sexual health outcomes can severely derail the overall health, social mobility, and life opportunities of these adolescents. Social researchers have tried to explain these sexual risk disparities using the concept of immigrant acculturation, which is broadly defined as the process of adopting the cultural values and beliefs of a host society. Immigrant acculturation has been shown to play a key role in shaping youth attitudes and behaviors, including sexual risk behaviors (see Lee & Hahm, 2010). Yet, studies have largely overlooked the contextual components of acculturation that have been proposed in theoretical literature, specifically characteristics of the immigrant's receiving community. Furthermore, studies have not adequately explored the influence of acculturation on two crucial measures of sexual risk: teen pregnancy norms and condom use. Therefore, the current dissertation consists of two unique studies that examine the influence of acculturation, at both the individual and neighborhood level, on Hispanic adolescent teen pregnancy norms and condom use over time. The aim is to fill these important gaps in the literature and expand on earlier explanations of the relationship between cultural, place, and long-term sexual health. Both studies use nationally-representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Overall, findings suggest an immigrant advantage for both teen pregnancy norms and condom use, although this advantage functions differently for males and females. Furthermore, the studies demonstrate the importance of including contextual measures of acculturation into studies related to Hispanic adolescent sexual health.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Driver, Nichola D

Health-related Quality of Life and Social Engagement in Assisted Living Facilities

Description: This research project aims to clarify the factors that impact successful aging in Assisted Living facilities (ALFs) in Denton County, Texas. We hypothesize that social disengagement decreases physical and mental components of quality of life. This exploratory research project employed standardized questionnaires to assess residents in the following domains; HRQOL, social engagement status, level of cognition, depression, and the level of functioning. This study collected data from 75 participants living in five ALFs. The average of Physical Component Scale (PCS) and Mental Component Scale (MCS) was 35.33, and 53.62 respectively. None of the participants had five or more social contacts out of facilities, and two-third of them had two or less social contacts. On average, those participants who were more socially engaged had higher score of MCS compared with disengaged counterparts. The level of physical function significantly affects social engagement, when people with more disabilities are more likely to be socially disengaged. Social engagement and depression significantly impact MCS, when depression is a mediating factor between social engagement and mental component of quality of life. Considering the expansion in aging population in the United States within the next three decades, the demand for high quality long-term care will skyrocket consequently. This study reveals that external social engagement can sustain HRQOL of residents in assisted living facilities.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Amini, Reza

Using Topic Models to Study Journalist-Audience Convergence and Divergence: The Case of Human Trafficking Coverage on British Online Newspapers

Description: Despite the accessibility of online news and availability of sophisticated methods for analyzing news content, no previous study has focused on the simultaneous examination of news coverage on human trafficking and audiences' interpretations of this coverage. In my research, I have examined both journalists' and commenters' topic choices in coverage and discussion of human trafficking from the online platforms of three British newspapers covering the period 2009–2015. I used latent semantic analysis (LSA) to identify emergent topics in my corpus of newspaper articles and readers' comments, and I then quantitatively investigated topic preferences to identify convergence and divergence on the topics discussed by journalists and their readers. I addressed my research questions in two distinctive studies. The first case study implemented topic modelling techniques and further quantitative analyses on article and comment paragraphs from The Guardian. The second extensive study included article and comment paragraphs from the online platforms of three British newspapers: The Guardian, The Times and the Daily Mail. The findings indicate that the theories of "agenda setting" and of "active audience" are not mutually exclusive, and the scope of explanation of each depends partly on the specific topic or subtopic that is analyzed. Taking into account further theoretical concepts related to agenda setting, four more additional research questions were addressed. Topic convergence and divergence was further identified when taking into account the newspapers' political orientation and the articles' and comments' year of publication.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Papadouka, Maria Eirini