Racism as a determinant of social and emotional wellbeing for Aboriginal Australian youth

Med J Aust. 2011 May 16;194(10):546-50. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb03099.x.


Objective: To explore the associations between self-reported racism and health and wellbeing outcomes for young Aboriginal Australian people.

Design, setting and participants: A cross-sectional study of 345 Aboriginal Australians aged 16-20 years who, as participants in the prospective Aboriginal Birth Cohort Study, were recruited at birth between 1987 and 1990 and followed up between 2006 and 2008.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported social and emotional wellbeing using a questionnaire validated as culturally appropriate for the study's participants; recorded body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio.

Results: Self-reported racism was reported by 32% of study participants. Racism was significantly associated with anxiety (odds ratio [OR], 2.18 [95% CI, 1.37-3.46]); depression (OR, 2.16 [95% CI, 1.33-3.53]); suicide risk (OR, 2.32 [95% CI, 1.25-4.00]); and poor overall mental health (OR, 3.35 [95% CI, 2.04-5.51]). No significant associations were found between self-reported racism and resilience or any anthropometric measures.

Conclusions: Self-reported racism was associated with poor social and emotional wellbeing outcomes, including anxiety, depression, suicide risk and poor overall mental health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / psychology*
  • Northern Territory
  • Prejudice*
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult