COVID-19 and Asian American college students: Discrimination, fear, and mental health

Angela Chia Chen Chen, Seung Yong Han, Wei Li, Karen J. Leong, Lihong Ou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Our research addressed double vic timization among Asian Americans by COVID-19 and anti-Asian racial discrimination during the pandemic. Guided by the Vulnerable Populations framework that argues that health status reflects the dynamic interplay between resource availability and relative risk, we investigated time-sensitive ques tions that explored relative risk (perceived racial dis crimination, fear of COVID-19), resources (COVID-19 prevention knowledge, resilience), and mental health status (post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depres sion) in Asian American undergraduate and graduate students during the pandemic. Methods: A mixed-methods research was con ducted to examine the relationships among the rela tive risk, resources, and mental health outcomes in this population. We adapted questions from valid and reliable measures to assess key variables. Descriptive and regression analyses along with content analysis were used to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data. Results: Our sample included 74 Asian American students (AA students) who participated in the online survey (53 complete cases were included in the statistical analysis) and an additional 10 AA students who were interviewed via Zoom. The results of hierarchical regression models confirmed a posi tive association between fear of COVID-19 and both mental health outcomes (PTSD and depression), and a negative association between COVID-19 prevention knowledge and mental health outcomes. Perceived racial discrimination was significantly and posi tively associated with PTSD and depression while controlling for sociodemographic variables. However, its association with outcomes diminished when fear of COVID-19 and COVID-19 prevention knowledge were added to the models. Our interview results sup ported the survey findings with more nuanced details not revealed in the survey. Conclusion: The findings of this research will help public health officials and universities identify prac tices useful for promoting culturally congruent safety and protection in response to pandemics and other health emergencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Emergency Management
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2021


  • Asian american
  • College student
  • Covid-19
  • Fear
  • Health
  • Racial discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research


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