Ethnic identity, well-being and health among college students

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Stowell, David J.
Lewis-Moss, Rhonda K.

Ethnic identity has been shown to be a protective factor against negative mental health outcomes for people of color. As health disparities persist, and the demographics of the United States continue to change and become more diverse, ethnic identity might also prove to be an effective instrument in reducing poor health outcomes among marginalized populations. The purpose of this project was to examine the relationship between ethnic identity, three health promotion behaviors, and perceived stress. Four hundred and fifty-three college students from a Mid-Western university participated in this study. Results indicate that people who have a high ethnic identity score eat more vegetables, F(1, 242) = 10.40, p < .001, ηp2 = .041, and perceived stress, F(1, 242) = 11.22, p < .001, ηp2 = .044, than people with a low ethnic identity score. Comparisons between ethnic groups, however, did not reveal any differences other than total ethnic identity scores. Multiple regression was used to compare the relationships between ethnic identity and health behaviors (i.e. fruit intake, vegetable intake, and physical activity) and perceived stress. Health behaviors and perceived stress did not provide reliable B weights for the ethnic groups and, therefore, comparisons between the ethnic groups were not conducted. Ethnic identity may be one avenue for reducing health disparities. Although ethnic identity may not be sufficient to improve an individuals overall health, it seems to help by promoting vegetable consumption and limiting the situations that individuals deem stressful. By increasing vegetable consumption and reducing stress, ethnic identity addresses two factors that contribute to health disparities. Implications and future research involving ethnic identity are discussed.

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Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology