Race and Social Problems

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 19–30 | Cite as

Workplace Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms: A Study of Multi-Ethnic Hospital Employees

  • Wizdom Powell HammondEmail author
  • Marion Gillen
  • Irene H. Yen


Workplace discrimination reports have recently increased in the U.S. Few studies have examined racial/ethnic differences and the mental health consequences of this exposure. We examined the association between self-reported workplace discrimination and depressive symptoms among a multi-ethnic sample of hospital employees. Data came from the prospective case–control Gradients of Occupational Health in Hospital Workers (GROW) study (N = 664). We used the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) to assess depressive symptoms and measured the occurrence, types, and frequency of workplace discrimination. African Americans were more likely than other racial/ethnic employees to report frequent and multiple types of discrimination exposure. Multivariate relationships were examined while controlling for socio-demographic factors, job strain, and general social stressors. After adjustment, workplace discrimination occurrence and frequency were positively associated with depressive symptoms. The positive association between workplace discrimination and depressive symptoms was similar across racial and ethnic groups. Reducing workplace discrimination may improve psychosocial functioning among racial/ethnic minority hospital employees at greatest risk of exposure.


Discrimination Workplace Depression Job strain Race/ethnicity 



This study was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, (Grant R01 AR47798-01). The first author is supported by the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (Award 1L60MD002605-01), the National Cancer Institute (Grant 3U01CA114629-04S2), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Cancer Research Fund. The authors would like to thank Drs. Noel Brewer, Edwin B. Fisher, and Brenda DeVellis for their comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Nestor Lopez-Duran for statistical consultation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wizdom Powell Hammond
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marion Gillen
    • 2
  • Irene H. Yen
    • 3
  1. 1.Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, EHSUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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