From the Journals

Chinese American families suffer discrimination related to COVID-19



COVID-19 didn’t only bring infection

In an accompanying editorial, Tina L. Cheng, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and her daughter Alison M. Conca-Cheng, a medical student at Brown University, Providence, R.I., remarked that the study’s findings were consistent with recent research that found “4 in 10 Americans reported that it has become more common since COVID-19 for people to express racist views about Asian Americans,” and also described an increase in complaints of discriminatory experiences by Asian Americans.

In this context, a link to poor mental health “should be no surprise,” Dr. Cheng and Ms. Conca-Cheng argued, and urged pediatricians to consult the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2019 policy statement on racism and on child and adolescent health. “It calls for us to optimize clinical practice, improve workforce development and professional education, strengthen research, and deploy systems through community engagement, advocacy, and public policy.”

David Rettew, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Vermont, Burlington, called the study’s main points “clear and disturbing.”

“While it is difficult to find much in the way here of a silver lining, these alarming reports have helped people working in health care and mental health to understand racism as another form of trauma and abuse which, like other types, can have real negative effects on health,” Dr. Rettew said in an interview. “The more we as mental health professions ask about racism and offer resources for people who have experienced it, just as we would people who have endured other types of trauma, the more we can help people heal. That said, it would be better just to stop this from happening in the first place.”

Dr. Cheah and colleagues’ study was supported by a National Science Foundation grant. The investigators disclosed no conflicts of interest. Dr. Cheng and Ms. Conca-Cheng disclosed no financial conflicts of interest related to their editorial. Dr. Rettew said he had no relevant financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Cheah CSL et al. Pediatrics. 2020;146(5):e2020021816.


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