Abstract: The Relationship between Discrimination, Resilience and Alcohol Use Among Asian, Black, and Latina/o Americans during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

The Relationship between Discrimination, Resilience and Alcohol Use Among Asian, Black, and Latina/o Americans during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, January 14, 2022
Treasury, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Audrey Hai, Post Doc, Boston University, MA
Cristina Bares, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Karen Chartier, PhD, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, VA
Christina Lee, PhD, Associate Professor, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Background and Purpose: Months into the COVID-19 response, the United States (U.S.) was seeing the psychological toll of the pandemic in increased wine and liquor sales. This was exacerbated by the environment of increased racial/ethnic tensions and visibility of systematic racism. The current study sought to understand how resilience and experiences of discrimination among people of color in the U.S. influenced alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the relationships between resilience and drinking and two forms of discrimination (general and COVID-specific) were investigated among three racial/ethnic groups—i.e., Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders (AAPI), Blacks/African Americans (BAA), and Latina/o Americans (LA).

Methods: This study was based on data from the Understanding America Study (UAS). The UAS is a nationally representative panel study, which consists of a random sample of U.S. residents aged 18 years or older. Respondents were recruited using address-based sampling and were surveyed on an array of health and behavioral health outcomes as well as their perceptions and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sample used in the present study was restricted to the AAPI (unweighted n=382), BAA (unweighted n=482), and LA (unweighted n=900) respondents in Wave 10 (collected in July 2020) and Wave 25 (collected in March 2021). Linear regression was used to examine the effects of general discrimination, COVID-specific discrimination, and resilience at Wave 10 on past 7 day alcohol use at Wave 25 (log transformed number of drinks) separately for each racial/ethnic group. Age, gender, education, nativity (US-born versus foreign-born), and past 7 day alcohol use at Wave 10 were adjusted for in each model. All analyses were conducted while accounting for the sampling weights of the UAS.

Results: Among AAPIs, higher resilience was significantly associated with less drinking (b=-.05, standard error [SE]=.03, p<.05), while no significant association was found between drinking and either form of discrimination. Among both BAAs and LAs, higher general discrimination was significantly associated with more drinking (BAA: b=.06, SE=.03, p<.05; LA: b=.04, SE=.02, p<.05), whereas resilience and COVID-specific discriminations did not have a significant relationship with drinking.

Conclusions and Implications: Among AAPIs, resilience showed a strong protective effect against drinking above and beyond COVID-specific and general discrimination’s potentially adverse effect on drinking. However, among BAAs and LAs, the experience of general discrimination significantly increased drinking regardless of one’s resilience level. Our findings suggest that alcohol preventions and interventions targeting AAPIs should pay special attention to increasing resilience through enhancing psychological resilience and community resources. For BAAs and LAs, continued efforts are needed to eliminate structural racism and develop culturally appropriate clinical practice/interventions that can weaken the link between discrimination and drinking among these populations.