September 1, 2016

Self-Reported Experiences of Discrimination and Depression in Native Hawaiians

Mapuana C.K. Antonio MA; Hyeong Jun Ahn PhD; Claire Townsend Ing DrPH; Adrienne Dillard MSW, LSW; Kevin Cassel DrPH, B. Puni Kekauoha; and Joseph Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula PhD

Hawaii Journal of Medicine & Public Health

Discrimination is an acute and chronic stressor that negatively impacts the health of many ethnic groups in the United States. Individuals who perceive increased levels of discrimination are at risk of experiencing psychological distress and symptoms of depression. No study to date has examined the relationship between perceived discrimination and mental health in Native Hawaiians. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between perceived discrimination and depression based on the Homestead Health Survey mailed to Native Hawaiian residents of Hawaiian Home Lands. This study also explores the role of cultural identity and how it may impact experiences of discrimination and symptoms of depression. Based on cross-sectional data obtained from 104 Native Hawaiian residents, a significant positive correlation was found between perceived discrimination and symptoms of depression (r= 0.32, P<.001). Cultural identity did not significantly correlate with discrimination or depression. Multiple linear regression analyses indicate that the relationship between depression and discrimination remained statistically significant (coefficient estimate of 0.18; P<.01), after accounting for differences in socio-demographics and degree of identification with the Native Hawaiian and American cultures. These findings are consistent with other studies that have focused on the effects of discrimination on psychological wellbeing for other ethnic minority populations.

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