The COVID-19 syndemic, with a disproportionately higher adverse impact on communities of color (i.e., COVID-19 infection and death), will likely exacerbate the existing health disparities in trauma-related symptoms between people of color (POC) and White Americans. However, no studies have examined the racial disparity in posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) during COVID-19. Grounded in ecological theory and racial trauma framework, we investigated racial disparity in PTSS and three possible mechanisms, 1) COVID stress, 2) direct racism, and 3) indirect racism, for these discrepancies using a large U.S. national sample. Results indicated that POC reported higher levels of PTSS than White Americans. The PTSS racial disparity was accounted more by direct and indirect racism than by the COVID-19- specific stressors, after controlling for age, gender, education, income, parent status, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and intimate partner violence (IPV). Additional fine-grained analyses for Hispanic/Latinx Americans, Black/African Americans, and Asian American and Pacific Islanders by and large corroborated the above findings. Our findings highlighted the deleterious impact of the ongoing racism pandemic on the POC community as a public health crisis in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic.


This is the accepted version of Zhou X, Nguyen-Feng VN, Wamser-Nanney R, Lotzin A. Racism, Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms, and Racial Disparity in the U.S. COVID-19 Syndemic. Behav Med. 2022 Mar 23:1-10. doi: 10.1080/08964289.2021.2006131. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35318897.


COVID-19, disparity, trauma, racism, ethnic-racial minority

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