Racial/ethnic differences in correlates of psychological distress among five Asian-American subgroups and non-Hispanic Whites

Hyunjeong Park, Eunsuk Choi, Jennifer A. Wenzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Despite their vastly different historical backgrounds, unique languages and variable pre- and post-immigration experiences, Asian-Americans are considered to share stressors surrounding immigration, but there is a gap in describing manifestations of possible mental distress. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore and compare differences in factors associated with psychological distress among Asian subgroups including Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and non-Hispanic Whites. Design: Using a cross-sectional study design, California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) 2011/2012 data were analyzed. The sample consisted of 29,142 participants: 25,645 non-Hispanic Whites, 3497 non-Hispanic Asian-Americans, 1156 Chinese, 471 Filipinos, 864 Vietnamese, 704 Koreans, and 302 Japanese. Sociodemographic characteristics included gender, age group, marital status, education, poverty level, working status, health insurance, level of acculturation, social cohesion, neighborhood safety, and civic engagement. Physical health status included disability and chronic illness. Psychological distress was evaluated using the Kessler 6 (K6) scale. Results: Results showed that psychological distress levels ranged between 1.96 and 4.52 (p <.05) out of 24 and associated factors were significantly different among the five Asian subgroups and non-Hispanic Whites. Conclusions: The current study highlights the differences in characteristics of psychological distress among Asian subgroups. It underscores the significance of understanding individualized cultural and historical background in each Asian subgroup and subsequently developing and applying appropriate interventions for those groups. In addition, different influencing factors should be applied to assess and prioritize the needs of Asian subgroups to improve psychological distress. The study also warrants further investigation and careful description of each Asian subgroups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1072-1088
Number of pages17
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Asian
  • California Health Interview Survey
  • Psychological distress
  • ethnicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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