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Discrimination Concern, Behavioral Issues Linked

JAMA Pediatrics; ePub 2018 Aug 20; Leventhal, et al

Concern over societal discrimination was common among youths in Los Angeles in 2016 and was associated with behavioral health problems 1 year later, according to a recent study. Researchers conducted a prospective cohort survey and collected data at baseline from January 2 through September 28, 2016 (11th grade), and at follow-up from January 1 through August 10, 2017 (12th grade), at 10 high schools in Los Angeles. A total of 2,572 students completed both surveys. They found:

  • The total sample included 2,530 with race/ethnicity data (1,198 [47.4%] Hispanic; 482 [19.0%] Asian; 104 [4.1%] African American; 155 [6.1%] multiracial; 419 [16.6%] white; 172 [6.8%] other).
  • Appreciable numbers of students reported feeling very or extremely concerned, worried, or stressed about increasing societal discrimination.
  • Each 1-SD increase on the societal discrimination concern composite in 2016 was associated with more days of past-month cigarette, marijuana, and alcohol use, more substances used, and greater odds of depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in 2017.
  • The magnitude of increase in societal discrimination concern from 2016 to 2017 was also associated with several behavioral health problems in 2017.


Leventhal AM, Cho J, Andrabi N, Barrington-Trimis J. Association of reported concern about increasing societal discrimination with adverse behavioral health outcomes in late adolescence. [Published online ahead of print August 20, 2018]. JAMA Pediatrics. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.2022.

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