This article was originally published here
J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2021 Nov 29. doi: 10.1007/s40615-021-01189-z. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Pre-pandemic health behavior has been put forward as a reason for excess COVID-19 infection and death in some racialized groups. At the same time, scholars have labeled racism the other pandemic and argued for its role in the adverse COVID-19 outcomes observed. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of discrimination on health behavior change among racialized adults in the early stages of the pandemic.
METHODS: Data were collected from 210 adults who identified as a visible minority in Alberta, Canada, in June 2020. The Everyday Discrimination Scale (Short Version) was adapted to examine past-month experiences. Four questions asked if alcohol/cannabis use and stress eating had significantly increased, and if sleep and exercise had significantly decreased in the past month. Logistic regression models examined associations between discrimination attributed to racial and non-racial causes and health behavior change adjusted for covariates.
RESULTS: The majority of adults (56.2%) reported past-month discrimination including 26.7% who attributed it to their race. Asian adults reported more racial discrimination and discrimination due to people believing they had COVID-19 than other visible minorities. Racial discrimination during the pandemic was strongly associated with increased substance use (OR: 4.0, 95% CI 1.2, 13.4) and decreased sleep (OR: 7.0, 95% CI 2.7, 18.4), and weakly associated with decreased exercise (OR: 2.2, 95% CI 1.1, 4.5). Non-racial discrimination was strongly associated with decreased sleep (OR: 4.8, 95% CI 1.8, 12.5).
CONCLUSION: Racial discrimination may have a particularly important effect on intensifying adverse health behavior changes among racialized adults during a time of global crisis.