January 12, 2017

The effects of perceived racism on psychological distress mediated by venting and disengagement coping in Native Hawaiians

Joseph Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula, Mapuana C.K. Antonio, Claire K. Townsend Ing, Andrea Hermosura, Kimberly E. Hall, Rebecca Knight and Thomas A. Wills

BMC Psychology

Background: Studies have linked perceived racism to psychological distress via certain coping strategies in several different racial and ethnic groups, but few of these studies included indigenous populations. Elucidating modifiable factors for intervention to reduce the adverse effects of racism on psychological well-being is another avenue to addressing health inequities.

Methods: We examined the potential mediating effects of 14 distinct coping strategies on the relationship between perceived racism and psychological distress in a community-based sample of 145 Native Hawaiians using structural equation modeling.

Results: Perceived racism had a significant indirect effect on psychological distress, mediated through venting and behavioral disengagement coping strategies, with control for age, gender, educational level, and marital status.

Discussion: The findings suggest that certain coping strategies may exacerbate the deleterious effects of racism on a person’s psychological well-being.

Conclusion: Our study adds Native Hawaiians to the list of U.S. racial and ethnic minorities whose psychological well-being is adversely affected by racism.

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