The Association of Perceived Abuse and Discrimination After September 11, 2001, With Psychological Distress, Level of Happiness, and Health Status Among Arab Americans

This article assessed the prevalence of perceived abuse and discrimination among Arab-American adults after September 11, 2001, and associations between abuse or discrimination and psychological distress, level of happiness and health status.

The researchers gathered data from a face-to-face survey administered in 2003 to a representative, population-based sample of Arab-American adults residing in the greater Detroit area. Overall, 25 percent of the respondents reported post-September 11 personal or familial abuse, and 15 percent reported that they personally had a bad experience related to their ethnicity, with higher rates among Muslims than Christians. After adjustment for socioeconomic and demographic factors, perceived post-September 11 abuse was associated with higher levels of psychological distress, lower levels of happiness and worse health status. Personal bad experiences related to ethnicity were associated with increased psychological distress and reduced happiness. Perceptions of not being respected within U.S. society and greater reported effects of September 11 with respect to personal security and safety, were associated with higher levels of psychological distress.

Perceived post-September 11 abuse and discrimination were associated with increased psychological distress, reduced levels of happiness and worse health status in our sample. Community based, culturally sensitive partnerships should be established to assess and meet the health needs of Arab Americans.