Young people of multiple disadvantaged groups face worse health due to more discrimination

June 11, 2012

An Indiana University study found that teens and young adults who are members of multiple minority or disadvantaged groups face more discrimination than their more privileged peers and, as a result, report worse mental and physical health.

In general, as the number of minority or disadvantaged groups to which belonged increased -- reflecting their gender, , race and -- the number of forms of discrimination they experienced and their frequency of exposure to discrimination also increased. As a result of their exposure to more forms of and more frequent discrimination, multiply disadvantaged teens and young adults experienced the most .

"Past work on discrimination and health focused on adults and examined the relationship between discrimination and health by only looking at one form of discrimination," said Eric Anthony Grollman, a in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Sociology at IU Bloomington. "For me, these new findings really speak to the importance of looking at the multiple dimensions of discrimination and health. You cannot capture an individual's full experience and well-being by just looking at race, for example."

Grollman's study, "Multiple Forms of Perceived Discrimination and Health Among Adolescents and Young Adults," appears in the June issue of the .

For the study, Grollman analyzed responses from 1,052 participants in the Black Youth Culture Survey of the University of Chicago's Black Youth Project. These data, which also included responses from young people who were Latino and white, provided a nationally that was diverse and evenly distributed across ages of survey participants, who were 15 to 25 years old.

Grollman's study considered four forms of discrimination -- based on race, gender, and social class -- as well as the frequency of discrimination. Teens and young adults in his study reported experiencing nearly two forms of discrimination on average. Those who were not from a minority or disadvantaged group (i.e., white, heterosexual males, whose families were never on welfare) reported experiencing 1.6 forms; those from one minority or disadvantaged group reported experiencing 1.7 forms; those from two reported experiencing 1.9 forms; those from three reported experiencing 2.1 forms; and those from four reported experiencing 2.8 forms.

When comparing teens and young adults who were not members of a minority or disadvantaged group with young people who were members of only one such group, Grollman found little difference in their reports of the number of forms and the frequency of discrimination they experienced.

"Teens and young adults who are members of only one minority or disadvantaged group are virtually indistinguishable from young people who are not members of any of these types of groups in terms of their exposure to discrimination and their status," Grollman said.

A gap between teens and young adults who were not members of a minority or disadvantaged group and young people who were members of such groups became increasingly apparent, however, as the number of minority or disadvantaged groups increased.

Other findings from the study include:

  • More than half of the young people reported experiencing two or more forms of discrimination, and 13 percent reported experiencing all four forms of
  • The measurements for depressive symptoms looked at the number of days teens and young adults reported feeling blue in the past month (from 0 to 30) plus the number of days they reported feeling disinterested in things in the past month (from 0 to 30), for a scale ranging from 0 to 60. Young people who were not members of a minority or disadvantaged group averaged a score of 8.3, with the number increasing to 18.7 for those who were members of four such groups.
  • The self-rated scale for ranged from 0 (fair/poor) to 3 (excellent). Teens and who were not members of a minority or disadvantaged group averaged a score of 1.9; those from one averaged 1.9; those from two averaged 1.7; those from three averaged 1.6; and those from four averaged 1.3.

Explore further: Study looks at discrimination's impact on smoking

More information: "Multiple Forms of Perceived Discrimination and Health Among Adolescents and Young Adults," Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Related Stories

Study looks at discrimination's impact on smoking

March 15, 2012
Smoking, the leading preventable cause of mortality in the United States, continues to disproportionately impact lower income members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

Discrimination may harm your health

January 12, 2012
Racial discrimination may be harmful to your health, according to new research from Rice University sociologists Jenifer Bratter and Bridget Gorman.

Recommended for you

Sugar not so sweet for mental health

July 27, 2017
Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

The role of dosage in assessing risk of hormone therapy for menopause

July 27, 2017
When it comes to assessing the risk of estrogen therapy for menopause, how the therapy is delivered—taking a pill versus wearing a patch on one's skin—doesn't affect risk or benefit, researchers at UCLA and elsewhere ...

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.