First Advisor

Roberto Orellana

Date of Publication

Spring 6-8-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work




Hispanic American women -- Sexual behavior, Sexual health, Well-being, Hispanic American women -- Social conditions, Intersectionality (Sociology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 137 pages)


Latinas/os are one of the fastest growing and most heterogeneous minority ethnic groups in the US. One in 5 women in the US are Latina; by 2060, it is projected that Latinas will compose 1/3 of the female population. Latinas continue to experience disparities in sexual and reproductive health outcomes compared to non-Hispanic whites. While factors impacting undesirable consequences of sexual activity for Latinas have been well documented, Latinas' experiences with sexual satisfaction in the broader context of sexual health remains understudied, despite sexual satisfaction having been identified as an integral component of sexual health. A focus on positive sexual health outcomes for Latinas has the potential to challenge known stereotypes about Latina sexuality; specifically, those related to cultural constructs such as acculturation, machi­smo and Mariani­smo. Conversations about the positive aspects of sexuality and sexual wellbeing are largely absent from current social work literature, education and practice. Often times, cultural stereotypes about acculturation, machismo and mariani­smo are perpetuated through risk-based approaches to understanding Latina sexuality. This study seeks to provide insight into factors correlated with sexual satisfaction for Latinas and to increase understanding of differences and similarities amongst Latina subgroups with respect to sexual satisfaction. This study is informed by Intersectionality and Latina Critical Race Theory; these theoretical approaches inform the research methodology and interpretation of findings by centering Latina identities and challenging stereotypes about Latina sexuality through a focus on positive aspects of sexual well-being.

This is a cross-sectional, secondary analysis of Wave IV data from the 2008 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) study. Wave IV includes a sample of 287 adult Latina women, who identified as either Mexican (56.9%), Chicana (6.7%), Cuban (4.2%), Puerto Rican (13.8%), and/or Central American (11.7%) or "other" (12.9%), with some identifying as multi-racial. The mean age of participants is 28 years. ANOVA analysis identified no significant group differences amongst Latina subgroups with respect to sexual satisfaction. Bivariate correlations indicated statistically significant associations between sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction. After controlling for income, education and religion, multiple regression analyses showed that relationship satisfaction, number of vaginal sex partners, and frequency of sexual relations were significantly correlated with sexual satisfaction. The more frequent engagement in sexual activity, and the more sexual partners one has is correlated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction.

This study contributes to our knowledge of Latina sexual health, especially our understanding of factors that impact sexual satisfaction. For Latina women, health promotion programs should be designed to enhance interpersonal relationships that are based on mutual respect and care, utilizing culturally relevant approaches. Findings of this study challenge stereotypical cultural constructs related to acculturation, machi­smo and mariani­smo. This study shows that quality relationships built on trust, communication and love are strongly correlated with sexual satisfaction, which in turn should impact overall health. These findings support the recognition of positive aspects of sexuality as a critical site of intersectionality as Latinas of all ethnic groups in this sample report high levels of sexual satisfaction, as well as relationship satisfaction and support health promotion and intervention intended to support the cultivation and maintenance of meaningful relationships for Latinas.


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