Through its influence on social interactions, simpatía may have a wide-ranging influence on Latinx health. Simpatía—which does not have a direct English translation—refers to being perceived as likeable, pleasant, and easygoing. Research to investigate the influence simpatía on Latinx health is limited, likely due to a lack of options for measuring simpatía among diverse Latinx populations.
The goal of this research was to develop a bilingual, survey-based simpatía scale for use among ethnically diverse Latinx adults in health-related settings.
Data were obtained through a telephone survey data of 1,296 Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American adults living in the United States. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Exploratory factor analysis, item response theory analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and computation of estimates of internal consistency reliability were conducted to inform the development of the final simpatía scale.
Results indicate that the final, nine-item, simpatía scale has high internal consistency (α = .83) and measurement invariance among Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American adults. Two dimensions were identified, as indicated by a perceptions subscale and a behavior subscale. Cuban Americans were found to have 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. By developing a new tool for measuring simpatía, this research advances opportunities for understanding and promoting Latinx health.
Rachel E. Davis, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia.
Sunghee Lee, PhD, is Associate Research Scientist, Program in Survey Methodology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Timothy P. Johnson, PhD, is Professor, Department of Public Administration, College of Urban Planning & Public Affairs, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Steven K. Rothschild, MD, is Associate Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, Rush Medical College, Rush University, Chicago, Illinois.
Accepted for publication January 6, 2019.
Funding for this research was provided by the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research at the University of Michigan (UL1RR024986) and the National Cancer Institute (R01 CA172283).
This research was conducted ethically and was approved and monitored by institutional review boards at the University of South Carolina (Pro00043756), the University of Illinois (Protocol 2013-1052), the University of Michigan (HUM00035808), and Rush University Medical Center (10012402-IRB01).
The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research or the National Institutes of Health.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.
Corresponding author: Rachel E. Davis, PhD, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 915 Greene Street, Room 529, Columbia, SC 29208 (e-mail: email@example.com).
Online date: May 1, 2019