Trends in Racial Discrimination Experiences for Asian Americans During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rebecca McGarity-Palmer, Anne Saw, Janice Y. Tsoh, Aggie J. Yellow Horse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Asian Americans (AAs) are experiencing increased rates of anti-Asian racism during COVID-19. Experiences of racism, whether personal or collective, constitute stress and psychosocial trauma that negatively impact mental and physical health. Objectives: Examine subgroup differences in rates of personal experience of discrimination and COVID-related collective racism and how each is associated with mental and physical health for AAs. Methods: Nationally representative data from the 2021 Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander COVID-19 Needs Assessment Project were used to estimate prevalence rates of discrimination and average COVID-related collective racism scores for AAs (unweighted N = 3478). We conducted logistic and linear regression models to examine subgroup differences by sociodemographic factors. We also conducted hierarchical logistic regression models to examine associations between racism and psychological distress and health decline. Results: Twenty-four percent of AAs (95% CI: 21.6, 25.6) reported experiencing discrimination during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Subgroup analyses revealed that Chinese, younger adults, and AAs who completed the survey in an Asian language were significantly more likely to experience discrimination compared to their counterparts. For COVID-related collective racism, subgroup analyses revealed that Chinese, women, and adults ages 25–44 were more likely to report experiences of collective racism compared to their counterparts. Both discrimination and collective racism were independently associated with negative mental and physical health. Conclusion: Discrimination and COVID-related collective racism are associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes for AAs. Results point to vulnerable AA subgroups and the need for targeted public health efforts to address racism in the context of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Anti-Asian racism
  • Asian American
  • COVID-19
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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