Perceived discrimination and its associations with mental health and substance use among asian american and pacific islander undergraduate and graduate students

Angela Chen, Laura A. Szalacha, Usha Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


Objectives: Racial discrimination experiences can negatively affect health. This study examined perceived discrimination and its relationship with mental health and substance use among Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) undergraduate and graduate students. Participants: A total of 113 API students aged 18-35 completed the study during February-June, 2011. Methods: The authors conducted a cross-sectional, anonymous survey online. Dependent variables included mental health (depressive, anxiety, and somatic symptoms) and substance use (alcohol problems, use of tobacco, marijuana or hashish, and other illegal drugs). Results: Students perceived discrimination were significantly, positively associated with depressive, anxiety, and somatic symptoms, but not with substance use. Ethnic identity moderated the relationship between perceived discrimination and somatic symptoms, but not depressive or anxiety symptoms. Conclusions: These findings suggested the negative effect of racial discrimination on API students mental health. The buffering effect of ethnic identity may increase resilience in these students when they face racial discrimination. © 2014

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-398
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of American College Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 18 2014



  • API students
  • discrimination
  • ethnic identity
  • mental health
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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