Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8267-4946

Year of Publication

2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Social Work

Department/School/Program

Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Kay Hoffman

Second Advisor

Dr. David Royse

Abstract

Women experience different forms of discrimination throughout their lives such as unfair treatment in interpersonal interactions in the public spheres and in the private sphere, as prescribed by societal gender roles, women can also experience inequality and discrimination as a disproportionate share of household work and caregiving, limited participation in decision making, unequal access and share of financial resources and leisure, and as well as in cases, of emotional, and physical, or sexual abuse. Limited research explored the potential joint effect of these forms of discrimination. The questions explored in this dissertation were: (1) How does gendered intra-household inequality, experienced as a constraint to women’s agency, interact with post-migration factors like interpersonal discrimination and how does the combination of factors affect the mental health of immigrant women? (2) how does gendered intra-household inequality and discrimination interact to affect mental health among women and men in the U.S? And lastly, how do major stressful and traumatic events and discrimination interact to affect mental health among women and men in the U.S? In the first paper, I analysed data from the National Latino and Asian American Study and I found that first- and second-generation immigrant and refugee women experience intra-household inequality such as having no say in final decisions, experiencing excessive demands from their spouse and moderate or severe violence and that both discrimination and intrahousehold inequality made a separate and a significant contribution to increasing women’s risk for meeting criteria for depression and PTSD. The second paper had two small substudies. In the first I analyzed data from the 2011-2014 MIDUS Refresher study, and I examined the relationship between perceived everyday discrimination, intrahousehold inequality, and depression and anxiety among women and men. I found that everyday discrimination was associated with depression and perceived role strain with both health outcomes. In the second substudy I analyzed data from the 2012-2016 MIDUS Refresher Biomarker to explore a potential pathway between role strain and depression and anxiety symptoms and whether these processes were contingent upon the perception of discrimination in social interactions. I found that perceived stress mediated the relationship between role strain and depression and anxiety and that discrimination moderated that relationship such that in the presence of perceived discrimination in interpersonal interactions, intrahousehold inequality was associated with more psychological distress and more severe symptoms of depression and anxiety. In the last paper, I used data from the 2012-2016 MIDUS Refresher Biomarker and I examined the association between major stressful and traumatic events, perceived discrimination and perceived multiple reasons for discrimination and anxiety and depression among women and men. I first examined a potential pathway between adverse experiences and depression and anxiety symptoms, and I found that perceived stress mediates these relationships. In the second part, I tested the moderating role of discrimination and of perceived multiple forms of discrimination and found that individuals who reported a greater number of major stressful events reported higher levels of stress if they perceive higher levels of discrimination and, further, that higher levels of stress predicted higher levels of depressive symptoms if they perceive higher levels of discrimination. Perception of multiple forms of discrimination (two forms or there or more) was also associated with higher levels of perceived stress. The concluding chapter presents the main findings of these studies and recommendations for social work practice and future research.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2020.334

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