Academic journal article College Student Journal

Depression and Racial/ethnic Variations within a Diverse Nontraditional College Sample

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Depression and Racial/ethnic Variations within a Diverse Nontraditional College Sample

Article excerpt

The study's objective was to ascertain whether rates of depression were significantly higher for Dominican, Puerto Rican, South and Central American and Jamaican/Haitian students than for African American and White students. The sample consisted of 987 predominantly nontraditional college students. The depression rate for Dominican students was significantly greater than the rates for African American and White students and the depression rate for Puerto Rican students was significantly greater than the rate for African American students. Female students had a significantly high rate of depression than male students. However, within each racial/ethnic group, female gender was not significantly predictive of higher depression rates when compared to male students. However, for females within racial/ethnic groups, Dominican female students had a significantly higher rate of depression than African American female students.

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The widespread impact of depression in our nation is well documented. According to a U.S. government report, more than 19 million adults in the United States suffer from depression (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2003). Major depression has been identified as one of the leading causes of disability and is the cause of more than two-thirds of suicides each year (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2003). This study was prompted by the college's participation in the National Depression Screening campaign and preliminary results from unpublished data from the College's Health Trend Survey (Towey & Hudson, 2004) that indicated that racial/ethnic identity was significantly related to depression for the student's sample for the categories of Hispanic, Other, White and African American. For example, the group of students who classified themselves as "Other" and "Hispanic" had higher rates of depression than White and African American students, that is, 48 percent of Others were likely (37 percent) or very likely (11 percent), 41 percent of Hispanics were likely (31 percent) or very likely (11 percent), 35 percent of Whites were likely (31 percent) or very likely (4 percent), and 27 percent of African Americans were likely (19 percent) or very likely (8 percent) to be depressed, [chi square](6, [N.bar]= 632) =15.66, [p.bar] = .01, (Towey & Hudson, 2004). Based on observations (1) that most Caribbean Americans would classify themselves as "Other" rather than African American and (2) the college has experienced the enrollment of a large number of recently immigrated Hispanics from the Dominican Republic and Central and South America, we decided to test whether differences in depression rates existed for these groups or, more specifically, what are the rates of depression for Dominican, Puerto Rican, South and Central American, Caribbean (Jamaican/Haitian) students, and do these rates differ significantly from the rates of African American and White students.

Review of Literature

Although there have been many studies on depression, the vast majority have failed to address the issue of diversity within the nation's Hispanic and Black populations. Over the last decade, there have been major increases in the number of Puerto Rican, Dominican, Jamaican, Haitian and South and Central American immigrants to the United States (Ramirez & de la Cruz, 2002; Schmidley, 2001). Each of these groups "differs in terms of generational history, migration history, immigrant history, immigrant status, poverty level, and educational attainment" (Robison, Gruman, Gaztambide, & Blank, 2002, p2). Further, each group will react differently to discrimination. Although more recent studies have used samples that include the more encompassing category of Hispanic (Dunlop, Song, Lyons, & John, 2003; Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2003; Rosenthal & Schreiner, 2000), notably missing is the failure to differentiate Hispanics and Blacks into sub-ethnic groups. …

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