Washington, December 18 (ANI): A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) has found that one quarter of Detroit-area Arab Americans reported personal or familial abuse because of race, ethnicity or religion since 9/11, leading to higher odds of adverse health effects.
Muslim Arabs also reported higher rates of abuse than Christians, according to lead author Aasim I. Padela, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar in U-M's Department of General Medicine and clinical instructor in the Department of Emergency Medicine.
Padela said that those who reported abuse showed a higher probability of having psychological distress, lower levels of happiness and poorer perceptions of health status.
"What's disturbing about the findings is that residents in Greater Detroit live in a large, well-established Arab community, where they might be expected to be protected from abuse," Padela said.
Most of the respondents also had access to health insurance.
"Negative associations of perceived post-911 abuse or discrimination might be much worse in less concentrated Arab populations within the United States," Padela said.
For the research, Padela and co-author Michele Heisler, associate professor of Internal Medicine and of Health Behavior and Health Education in the School of Public Health, used data from a face-to-face survey of Arab Americans administered in 2003.
This is the first representative, population-based investigation of the health and psychological impacts of September 11 on Arabs and Muslims living in the United States, according to the researchers.
"Racial and ethnic abuse and discrimination can have lasting effects, and many of those afflicted may not be seeking adequate care. Some may fear racial or ethnic discrimination from health care providers," Padela said.
"Others may worry about the stigma of admitting to a mental health problem, made worse by a culture that historically has not fully accepted mental illness," he added.
"Untreated psychological distress leads you to do something bad, like smoking, drinking, or other unhealthy responses. It becomes a vicious cycle," Padela said. "We may be missing an entire spectrum of people who are most stigmatized," he added.
According to Padela, the study shows the need for partnerships with religious and community organizations to encourage Arab-Americans to get the mental health services they so crucially need.
"We know that anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate crimes are still higher than they were pre-9/11. Years after, we think this is over. But not only is it not over, it's having negative health consequences and we're not doing anything to address it," he said. (ANI)