Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Mayur M. Desai


Objectives: Discrimination, low social support, and low English proficiency negatively impact the mental health of immigrants. More work is needed to investigate the relationship between these factors and depression in South Asian immigrants. We examined the cross-sectional associations between chronic discrimination, low social support, low English proficiency, and depression in South Asians using data from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study.

Methods: We fit logistic regression models to evaluate the associations between discrimination, social support, English proficiency, and depression in a sample of 887 South Asian adults. We also explored how discrimination, social support, and language proficiency may interact to synergistically increase the odds of depression.

Results: We found that 131 people, or 14.8% of the sample, were depressed. High chronic discrimination and low social support led to a higher odds of depression; low English proficiency was not significantly correlated with depression after adjusting for education. Low English proficiency and low social support interacted synergistically with discrimination: both factors increased the impact of discrimination on the odds of depression. However, these interactions were not statistically significant. English proficiency and social support did not interact to increase the odds of depression.

Conclusions: Discrimination and social support are correlated with depression in South Asian immigrants, and discrimination interacts with social support and English proficiency to impact mental health. Given the stressors that South Asians face as immigrants and the growing South Asian community in the United States, it is essential for clinicians to consider work that examines how discrimination, social support, and language proficiency affect the mental health of this population.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access