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The Role of Racial Microaggressions, Stress, and Acculturation in Understanding Latino Health Outcomes in the USA

Abstract

A growing body of literature demonstrates important negative health effects from racial microaggressions for racial/ethnic minorities. However, at present, the bulk of the literature is focused on the case of black Americans with relatively little attention as to how this may play out for other racial/ethnic groups. Here, we examine the association of health and racial microaggressions in the case of Latinos. Furthermore, we disaggregate Latinos by language preference in order to see how acculturation to the USA may moderate the effect of racial microaggressions on health outcomes for the group. In a statistical analysis of the 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, we examine the association between stress from racial microaggressions and self-rated health for Latinos of different levels of linguistic acculturation. We find that more acculturated Latinos (measured in terms of language preference) are more likely to experience physical stress from perceived racial microaggressions after accounting for social and demographic factors. Further, this stress is linked to overall poorer self-rated health for the group. However, we find no such association for less acculturated, Spanish-preference Latinos.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank prior anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The authors presented this paper at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association in 2014 in Portland, OR. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 2011100013.

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Correspondence to Kathryn Freeman Anderson.

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Anderson, K.F., Finch, J.K. The Role of Racial Microaggressions, Stress, and Acculturation in Understanding Latino Health Outcomes in the USA. Race Soc Probl 9, 218–233 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-017-9212-2

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Keywords

  • Health disparities
  • Latinos
  • Racism
  • Microaggressions
  • Immigration
  • Acculturation
  • Stress