Associations of ethnic discrimination with symptoms of anxiety and depression among Hispanic emerging adults: a moderated mediation model

Anxiety Stress Coping. 2016 Nov;29(6):699-707. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2016.1157170. Epub 2016 Mar 21.


Background and objectives: Emerging adulthood is often marked with elevated symptoms of anxiety and depression. Hispanic emerging adults may face cultural stressors such as ethnic discrimination that further increase levels of anxiety and depression symptoms. The study aims were to examine if (a) self-esteem mediated effects of ethnic discrimination on symptoms of anxiety and depression, and (b) if gender moderated the indirect effects of discrimination.

Design: The study design was cross-sectional self-report.

Method: Two moderated mediation models were tested, with 1084 Hispanic emerging adults (ages 18-25) enrolled in institutions of post-secondary in the United States.

Results: Results indicated that (a) higher ethnic discrimination was associated with higher anxiety symptoms (β = .05, p = .04), higher depression symptoms (β = .06, p = .02), and lower self-esteem (β = -.30, p < .001); (b) self-esteem mediated the associations of ethnic discrimination with anxiety and depression symptoms; and (c) gender moderated the indirect effects of discrimination, whereby self-esteem was a stronger mediator among men than women. Each moderated mediation model explained 26% of variability in symptoms of anxiety and depression, respectively.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that the mediating effects of self-esteem linking ethnic discrimination with symptoms of anxiety and depression vary between genders.

Keywords: Hispanics; anxiety; depression; emerging adults; ethnic discrimination; self-esteem.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Racism / psychology*
  • Racism / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult