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Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Robin Everhart, PhD


Perceived discrimination has been linked to adverse mental health outcomes, increased risk-taking behaviors, and poor engagement in health promoting behaviors. College students may be especially susceptible to negative mental health outcomes associated with discrimination due to the unique stressors faced by young adults (e.g., prolonged transition to adulthood, onset of mental health disorders, changes in social support). The current study examined the mediating and moderating roles of health behaviors and social support on the association between perceived discrimination and mental health outcomes (e.g., anxiety, depression, suicidality) in college students. A total of 709 college students (42.8% White; 72.2% female; 30.2% first-generation) from a large urban university completed online questionnaires including: the Everyday Discrimination Scale (EDS), Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL-25), Suicidal Behavior Questionnaire-14 (SBQ-14), Health Behaviors Checklist (HBCL), and Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL-College Version). To examine study aims, moderation and parallel mediation analyses were conducted in PROCESS SPSS macro version 4.0. Results indicated that preventive health behaviors and social support partially mediated the association between discrimination and mental health outcomes. Findings additionally suggested that first- and continuing-generation students may experience different impacts on health behavior associated with discrimination. Our findings lend support to the generalizability of certain elements of the discrimination-health model in college students reporting on a wider variety of discrimination experiences. Further examination of the discrimination-health model in first- and continuing-generation students may be warranted to better inform the ways that discrimination may uniquely impact health behavior in these populations.


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