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Womens Health Issues. 2010 Sep;20(5):350-8. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2010.05.002.

Perceived discrimination and health outcomes a gender comparison among Asian-Americans nationwide.

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School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.



We examined whether similarities and differences exist in the association between perceived discrimination and poor mental and physical health among Asian-American adult women and men. We also tested whether Asian-American women would have a lower perceived discrimination threshold for developing negative health outcomes than Asian-American men.


Data were derived from the National Latino and Asian-American Study (2002-2003). A nationally representative sample of Asian-American adults (1,075 women and 972 men) was examined.


There were more gender similarities than differences in the strong association between discrimination and health. More prominent gender differences were found for the specific level of discrimination and its potential health effects. Specifically, for both Asian women and men, a high level of perceived discrimination showed stronger associations with mental health than with physical health outcomes. And yet, compared with men, the threshold of discrimination was lower for women in affecting mental and physical health status.


The findings underscore that a high level of discrimination was associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes for both women and men. However, women had more negative mental and physical health outcomes when exposed to a lower threshold of discrimination than men. These findings suggest that failing to examine women and men separately in discrimination research may no longer be appropriate among the Asian-American population. Future research should focus attention on the biological, social, and political mechanisms that mitigate the adverse health effects of discrimination in order to develop a more comprehensive approach to eliminate disparities in health.

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