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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2011 May;72(3):361-70.

Racial prejudice and unfair treatment: interactive effects with poverty and foreign nativity on problem drinking.

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Alcohol Research Group, 6475 Christie Avenue, Suite 400, Emeryville, California 94608-1010, USA.



Although racial and ethnic minorities are often disadvantaged in multiple ways, little research has examined the interactive effects of multiple forms of disadvantage in these populations. The current study describes the independent and interactive effects of perceived prejudice, perceived unfair treatment, poverty, and foreign nativity on problem drinking outcomes among Black and Latino adults.


The data source was Black (n = 504) and Latino (n = 766) drinkers from the nationally representative, weighted 2005 National Alcohol Survey. Perceived prejudice was assessed using a composite measure of racial stigma consciousness; perceived unfair treatment was assessed using a single item. Respondents whose per capita household income was below the 2004 poverty guidelines were coded as "poor"; nativity status was assessed among Latinos. Outcomes included past-year drinking to drunkenness, any drinking-related consequences, and two or more dependence symptoms.


In bivariate tests, higher levels of unfair treatment were significantly associated with all three outcomes among Blacks (marginally so for drunkenness) and dependence symptoms among Latinos. Further, higher racial stigma was significantly associated with higher rates of any drinking consequences among Latinos. In multivariate logistic regressions, six significant or marginally significant interactions emerged. For each, the pattern of results suggested stronger associations between perceived prejudice/unfair treatment and problem drinking given either poverty or foreign nativity.


Although findings were somewhat mixed, the pattern of results tentatively supports the hypothesis that associations between problem drinking and both prejudice and unfair treatment can be exacerbated given the presence of other stressors, particularly among Latinos. Results extend the literature on the health consequences of prejudice and discrimination, highlighting important effects of cumulative adversity and suggesting a need to focus particularly on drinkers exposed to the combined effects of multiple stressors in prevention and treatment efforts.

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