Perceived discrimination, traditional practices, and depressive symptoms among American Indians in the upper Midwest

Les B. Whitbeck, Barbara J. McMorris, Dan R. Hoyt, Jerry D. Stubben, Teresa LaFromboise

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American Indian adults are thought to experience significant depressive symptoms at rates several times higher than adults in the general population, yet we know very little about factors associated with depressive symptoms among this under studied group. Many researchers have argued that depressive symptoms are associated with conflicts between American Indian traditional cultural values, practices, and beliefs and those of the majority culture. This report, based on a sample 287 American Indian adults from the upper Midwest, takes into account two measures of cultural effects: perceived discrimination, as one indicator of culture conflict, and traditional practices, as a measure of cultural identification. The results indicate that discrimination is strongly associated with depressive symptoms among American Indian adults and that engaging in traditional practices is negatively related to depressive symptoms. Moreover, interaction effects between perceived discrimination and traditional practices indicate that engaging in traditional practices buffers the negative effects of discrimination among those who regularly participate in them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-418
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Health and Social Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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