Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Interdisciplinary Studies (Graduate)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Victoria B. Mitrani

Second Committee Member

Clyde B. McCoy

Third Committee Member

Etiony Aldarondo

Fourth Committee Member

JoAnn Trybulski

Fifth Committee Member

Elias P. Vasquez

Sixth Committee Member

Nilda Peragallo


Among the health disparities affecting the U.S. Hispanic population today are those relating to risky behaviors such as substance abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV) and HIV/AIDS. However, few studies have examined how these conditions may impact this population. The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the experiences that Hispanic women in South Florida have with regard to substance abuse, IPV and risks for HIV/AIDS, to describe how these conditions may be related, and to develop a model that can be used to guide research and interventions targeting this population. This dissertation uses data collected in Project DYVA (Drogas y Violencia en las Americas- Drugs and Violence in the Americas), a pilot research study that utilized both qualitative (Phase I) and quantitative (Phase II) research methods to describe the experiences of Hispanic women in South Florida between the ages of 18 and 60 with regard to substance abuse, violence and risky sexual behaviors. Three studies were conducted as part of this dissertation. The first study utilizes data collected during the qualitative phase of Project DYVA. During this phase eight focus groups were conducted and analyzed using qualitative content analysis (N = 81). The second and third studies utilize data collected during the second phase of Project DYVA. In this phase cross-sectional questionnaires collecting information regarding demographics, acculturation, self-esteem, depression, substance abuse, IPV and risks for HIV, were administered to 82 Hispanic women. Univariate and multivariate statistics were used to explore the relationships between substance abuse, IPV and risk for HIV (study 2) and between resource availability, IPV and depression (study 3). The findings from this dissertation suggest that substance abuse, IPV and risk for HIV are closely related intersecting health issues. IPV, the condition that emerged as the most salient of the three, also appears to be closely associated with resource availability (i.e., self-esteem and income) and depression. Additional individual, cultural, relationship and socio-environmental factors that may play a significant role in shaping the experiences that Hispanic women have with regards to these intersecting conditions were also identified and organized into a model.


Partner Abuse; Risky Sexual Behaviors; Latino Health; Domestic Violence; Mixed Methods; Alcohol And Other Drug Use; Health Disparities; Community Research