Race/Ethnic Differences in Non-Specific Psychological Distress: Evidence from the National Health Interview Survey

Jenifer Bratter, University of Houston

Race/ethnicity differentials in mental health are often used to explore the experience of "minority" status relative to the "majority". Recent examinations of these patterns have focused on a limited number of race/ethnic groups or used small-scale surveys. We investigate the differences in prevalence of psychological distress among several race/ethnic groups using a five-year pool of the National Health Interview Survey, and a new measure of psychological distress--the K6 scale (Kessler et al 2002). Using multivariate logit models, we analyze the likelihood of psychological distress across race/ethnic sub populations compared to non-Hispanic Whites. The results indicate that African Americans and Mexicans have lower levels of distress relative to Whites, while Asians appear to have similar levels of distress. These results inform the larger question of what "minority status" refers to within the arena of mental health, particularly when majority members are not necessarily more advantaged in this respect.

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Presented in Session 86: Race and Ethnic Inequalities in Health Outcomes