The Effects of Ethnicity and Acculturation Related Variables On the Relationship Between Depression and Perceived Discrimination Among Asian American Youth
Methods:The data for this study come from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health (Add health). Add Health is a school-based study with a sample of more than 20,000 adolescents in Grades 7 to 12. The current study used a subsample of nationally representative Asian American and European American youth who completed interviews during adolescence (ages 12 to 17), six years after that, and again six years after that. A total of 1,418 Asian Americans and 8,369 European Americans were analyzed. Constructs were measured by: 1) a 19-item Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale for depression; 2) immigration status and spoken language at home; and 3) adolescents’ perceived discrimination at school, such as whether students at school were characterized as being prejudiced and the extent to which teachers treat students fairly. The study used multi-group structural equation modeling (SEM) for data analysis.
Results: The final model that best accommodated the data indicated that there was a link between perceived discrimination (teacher fairness towards students) and depression during adolescence whose effects extended into early young adulthood and young adulthood through the presence of autoregressive dynamics. In addition, there was a statistically significant path coefficient between judgments of prejudice in other students and depression during all three developmental periods. All of these estimated effects maintained in the presence of a large number of covariates. Comparisons of the magnitude of effects across different groups (e.g., European Americans, U.S. born Asians, non-U.S. born Asians, Asians speaking primarily English in the home and Asians speaking non-English in the home) were explored, with several interesting differences noted.
Implications: Findings of this study suggest that the effects of discrimination in Asian youth on depression during adolescence can persist across later developmental stages, including early young adulthood and young adulthood, some 12 years later. The results provide clarity on sources of health surrounding Asian Americans and illustrate the importance of disparities in mental health among Asian American youth.