Family efficacy within ethnically diverse families: A qualitative study

Family efficacy, which refers to a family's belief in its ability to produce a desired outcome, has been shown to protect adolescents from risky health behaviors. Few studies have examined family efficacy within diverse populations, however, and understanding of how efficacy is framed and formed within the context of cultural and familial values is limited. This descriptive qualitative study examined sources of family efficacy within ethnically and socioeconomically diverse families, evaluating how such families develop and exercise family efficacy with the intent to protect adolescents from risky health behaviors (i.e., marijuana and alcohol use and early sexual activity). We collected qualitative data via two semi-structured interviews, 4-6 months apart, with 31 adolescents (ages 12-14) and their parent/s, for total of 148 one-on-one interviews. Thematic analysis identified three distinct domains of family efficacy: relational, pragmatic, and value-laden. Prior experiences and cultural background influenced the domain/s utilized by families. Significantly, families that consistently tapped into all three domains were able to effectively manage personal and family difficulties; these families also had family strategies in place to prevent adolescents from risky behaviors. Health professionals could utilize this concept of multidimensional family efficacy to promote health within culturally diverse families.