Racism; Discrimination; Mental Health; Health


BACKGROUND: Racial microaggressions continue to be a serious problem in the United States. While racialized microaggressions have been a long standing, though under explored, issue for all Asian Americans, Covid significantly amplified both overt and microaggression-based discrimination against Asian Americans because of the links between the origins of the viral spread and China (Lee & Waters, 2021). Despite this history of discrimination against Asian Americans, research in the area of microaggressions has lagged compared to other groups. However, research in this area has recently grown significantly, warranting a synthetic study of existing literature in order to better frame understandings of the current state of knowledge and to provide a foundation for future research.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the current study was to present a scoping review of the literature on the association between racial microaggressions and psychosocial and health outcomes among Asian Americans to better understand the state of the research literature and to identify gaps therein. An exploratory meta-analysis was undertaken to pool the effects of racialized microaggressions on health across studies.

METHODS: Following PRISMA guidelines, electronic databases and reference lists were systematically searched for empirical literature. Twenty-two studies met inclusion criteria for the scoping review and 20 studies were included in the exploratory meta-analysis.

RESULTS: The studies examined mental health, physical health, and substance abuse outcomes related to experiences of racial microaggressions. All studies used valid and reliable measures. Most participants were recruited from educational institutions representing various racial groups, with a small subset of studies focused exclusively on Asian Americans and subgroups as well as immigrant generational status. Only two studies used a longitudinal research design while the remaining studies were cross-sectional studies. The results of the meta-analysis provided evidence of a statistically significant relationship between experiencing racialized microaggressions and negative health outcomes. Although there was no significant difference between studies that reported on Asian populations and those that aggregated racial/ethnic groups, studies that reported only on Asian populations showed a larger effect than those that included other racialized/ethnic groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this synthetic research point to the importance of including a broader range of racial/ethnic Asian sub-groups, as well as specifying the data to include differential experiences by Asian American sub-groups; including a wider range of ages in the study samples as well as having larger sample sizes in order to provide more generalizable findings; and the need to increase longitudinal studies. Overall, this study makes an important contribution by supporting more in-depth and targeted research of racial microaggressions as experienced by Asian Americans and Asian American sub-groups.

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