How discrimination and stress affects self-esteem among Dominican immigrant women: an exploratory study

Soc Work Public Health. 2011;26(1):60-77. doi: 10.1080/10911350903341069.


Understanding the factors that contribute to the health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities in the United States is very important given the growing Latina population. Although researchers have investigated the health and mental health status among Latinas, the relationship between mental health and self-esteem has not been given a lot of attention. Given that self-esteem is a proxy for mental health status, investigations exploring the factors that can negatively affect self-esteem are needed. Therefore, the current study examined the influence of discrimination and stress on self-esteem among Dominican immigrant women. A cross-sectional study was undertaken among 235 immigrant Dominican women in New York City. Women (age 18-49 years) and in the United States for fewer than 20 years were more likely to report experiencing discrimination compared to women older than age 50 years and in the United States for more than 20 years. After controlling for age, time in the United States, educational level, and income, high levels of discrimination (-0.09, p < 0.01) and stress (-0.69, p < 0.001) were significantly associated with reduced self-esteem. Interventions with Latino/a populations, especially women, need to acknowledge their individual evaluations of the discriminatory and stressful experiences that negatively influence their self-esteem and subsequently their mental health status.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dominican Republic / ethnology
  • Educational Status
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prejudice*
  • Psychometrics
  • Self Concept*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult