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CMAJ Open ; 9(4): E998-E1004, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1524570


BACKGROUND: Asian Canadians and Asian Americans face COVID-19-related discrimination. The objective of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences of Asian health care workers dealing with discrimination, with a focus on racial micro-agressions, in Canada and the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: We adopted a qualitative descriptive approach. We used convenience and snowball sampling strategies to recruit participants. We conducted individual, in-depth semistructured interviews with Asian health care workers in Canada and the US via videoconferencing between May and September 2020. Eligible participants had to self-identify as Asian and be currently employed as a health care worker with at least 1 year of full-time employment. We used an inductive thematic approach to analyze the data. RESULTS: Thirty participants were recruited. Fifteen (50%) were Canadians and 15 (50%) were Americans; there were 18 women (60%), 11 men (37%) and 1 nonbinary person. Most of the participants were aged 25-29 years (n = 16, 53%). More than half were nurses (n = 16, 53%); the other participants were attending physicians (n = 5), physiotherapists (n = 3), resident physicians (n = 2), a midwife, a paramedic, a pharmacist and a physician assistant. Two themes emerged from the data: a surge of racial microaggressions related to COVID-19 and a lack of institutional and public acknowledgement. Participants noted that they have experienced an increase in racial microaggressions during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have also experienced threats of violence and actual violence. The largely silent organizational response to the challenges being faced by people of Asian descent and the use of disparaging terms such as "China virus" in the early stages of the pandemic were a substantial source of frustration. INTERPRETATION: Asian health care workers have experienced challenges in dealing with racial microaggressions related to COVID-19 in the US and Canada. More research should be done on the experiences of Asian Americans and Asian Canadians, both during and after the pandemic, and supportive measures should be put in place to protect Asian health care workers.

Asian Americans/psychology , COVID-19/psychology , Health Personnel/psychology , Racism/psychology , Adult , Canada , Female , Humans , Interviews as Topic , Male , Pandemics , Qualitative Research , SARS-CoV-2 , United States , Workplace Violence/psychology , Xenophobia/psychology