Exploring the Role of Media Sources on COVID-19–Related Discrimination Experiences and Concerns among Asian People in the United States: Cross-Sectional Survey Study

Nan Yu, Shuya Pan, Chia Chen Yang, Jiun Yi Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Media coverage and scholarly research have reported that Asian people who reside in the United States have been the targets of racially motivated incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Objective: This study aimed to examine the types of discrimination and worries experienced by Asians and Asian Americans living in the United States during the pandemic, as well as factors that were associated with everyday discrimination experience and concerns about future discrimination that the Asian community may face. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was conducted. A total of 235 people who identified themselves as Asian or Asian American and resided in the United States completed the questionnaire. Results: Our study suggested that up to a third of Asians surveyed had experienced some type of discrimination. Pooling the responses “very often,” “often,” and “sometimes,” the percentages for each experienced discrimination type ranged between 14%-34%. In total, 49%-58% of respondents expressed concerns about discrimination in the future. The most frequently experienced discrimination types, as indicated by responses “very often” and “often,” were “people act as if they think you are dangerous” (25/235, 11%) and “being treated with less courtesy or respect” (24/235, 10%). About 14% (32/235) of individuals reported very often, often, or sometimes being threatened or harassed. In addition, social media use was significantly associated with a higher likelihood of experiencing discrimination (β=.18, P=.01) and having concerns about future episodes of discrimination the community may face (β=.20, P=.005). Use of print media was also positively associated with experiencing discrimination (β=.31, P<.001). Conclusions: Our study provided important empirical evidence regarding the various types of discrimination Asians residing in the United States experienced or worried about during the COVID-19 pandemic. The relationship between media sources and the perception of racial biases in this group was also identified. We noted the role of social media in reinforcing the perception of discrimination experience and concerns about future discrimination among Asians during this outbreak. Our results indicate several practical implications for public health agencies. To reduce discrimination against Asians during the pandemic, official sources and public health professionals should be cognizant of the possible impacts of stigmatizing cues in media reports on activating racial biases. Furthermore, Asians or Asian Americans could also be informed that using social media to obtain COVID-19 information is associated with an increase in concerns about future discrimination, and thus they may consider approaching this media source with caution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere21684
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Asian Americans
  • Asians
  • COVID-19
  • Discrimination
  • Media source
  • Prejudice
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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