Racial-ethnic disparities in psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: the role of experienced discrimination and perceived racial bias

Ming Wen, Lu Shi, Donglan Zhang, Yan Li, Zhuo Chen, Baojiang Chen, Liwei Chen, Lu Zhang, Hongmei Li, Jian Li, Xuesong Han, Dejun Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Research on mental health disparities by race-ethnicity in the United States (US) during COVID-19 is limited and has generated mixed results. Few studies have included Asian Americans as a whole or by subgroups in the analysis. Methods: Data came from the 2020 Health, Ethnicity, and Pandemic Study, based on a nationally representative sample of 2,709 community-dwelling adults in the US with minorities oversampled. The outcome was psychological distress. The exposure variable was race-ethnicity, including four major racial-ethnic groups and several Asian ethnic subgroups in the US. The mediators included experienced discrimination and perceived racial bias toward one’s racial-ethnic group. Weighted linear regressions and mediation analyses were performed. Results: Among the four major racial-ethnic groups, Hispanics (22%) had the highest prevalence of severe distress, followed by Asians (18%) and Blacks (16%), with Whites (14%) having the lowest prevalence. Hispanics’ poorer mental health was largely due to their socioeconomic disadvantages. Within Asians, Southeast Asians (29%), Koreans (27%), and South Asians (22%) exhibited the highest prevalence of severe distress. Their worse mental health was mainly mediated by experienced discrimination and perceived racial bias. Conclusions: Purposefully tackling racial prejudice and discrimination is necessary to alleviate the disproportionate psychological distress burden in racial-ethnic minority groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number957
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Experienced discrimination
  • Perceived racial Bias
  • Psychological distress
  • Racial-ethnic disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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