Profiles of a COVID-19 Syndemic: Anti-Asian Racism, Economic Challenges, and Mental and Physical Health

Rebecca McGarity-Palmer, Anne Saw, Aggie J.Yellow Horse, Stella S. Yi, Janice Tsoh, David Takeuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Asians/Asian Americans have experienced co-occurring threats of anti-Asian racism, economic challenges, and negative mental and physical health symptoms. Objectives: We examined the co-occurrence of COVID-19-related anti-Asian discrimination and collective racism, economic stressors, and mental and physical health challenges for Asians/Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also examined Asian/Asian American subgroups associated with these threats. Methods: Nationally representative data from the 2021 Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander COVID-19 Needs Assessment Project (unweighted N = 3,508) were used to conduct a latent profile analysis to identify unique typologies of the co-occurrence of these threats. We also conducted chi-square analyses to investigate subgroup differences by latent profile. Results: We identified five distinct latent profiles: multi-threat impact, low impact, collective racism, health challenges, and economic/health challenges. Forty percent of Asians/Asian Americans were in the multi-threat impact profile, indicating high levels across COVID-19-related threats. Subgroup analyses revealed significant differences in profile membership. East Asians, US-born Asians/Asian Americans, and those aged 25–44 seemed to be particularly affected by the proposed syndemic; results also differed by income. Conclusion: Asians/Asian Americans have experienced co-occurring and interrelated threats during COVID-19 that suggest the presence of a syndemic. Results from our study point to vulnerable Asian/Asian American subgroups and the need for targeted public health efforts to address racism, health challenges, and economic challenges in the context of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-312
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Asian Americans
  • COVID-19
  • Financial burden
  • Health status
  • Racism
  • Syndemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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