Eric Anthony Grollman, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University Bloomington, said as the number of minority or disadvantaged groups to which young people belonged increased -- gender, socioeconomic status, race, and sexual identity -- the number of forms of discrimination they experienced and their frequency of exposure to discrimination also grew.
As a result of exposure to more forms of, and more frequent, discrimination, multiply disadvantaged teens and young adults experienced worse mental and physical health than non-disadvantages peers.
"Past work on discrimination and health focused on adults and examined the relationship between discrimination and health by only looking at one form of discrimination," Grollman said in a statement. "You cannot capture an individual's full experience and well-being by just looking at race."
Grollman analyzed responses from 1,052 participants ages 15-25 in the Black Youth Culture Survey of the University of Chicago's Black Youth Project, which included responses from Latinos and whites.
The study, publicized in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found white, heterosexual males, whose families were never on welfare reported 1.6 forms of discrimination, while those from one minority or disadvantaged group reported experiencing 1.7 forms. Those from two disadvantaged groups reported 1.9 forms; those from three reported experiencing 2.1 forms; and those from four reported experiencing 2.8 forms of discrimination.