General Self-Efficacy and Mortality in the USA; Racial Differences


DOI: 10.1007/s40615-016-0278-0

Cite this article as:
Assari, S. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (2016). doi:10.1007/s40615-016-0278-0



General self-efficacy has been historically assumed to have universal health implications. However, less is known about population differences in long-term health effects of general self-efficacy across diverse populations. This study compared black and white American adults for (1) the association between psychosocial and health factors and general self-efficacy at baseline, and (2) the association between baseline self-efficacy and long-term risk of all-cause mortality over 25 years.


The Americans’ Changing Lives (ACL) study, 1986–2011, is a nationally representative longitudinal cohort of US adults. The study followed 3361 black (n = 1156) and white (n = 2205) adults for up to 25 years. General self-efficacy as well as demographics, socioeconomics, stressful life events, health behaviors, obesity, depressive symptoms, and self-rated health were measured at baseline in 1986. The outcome was time to all-cause mortality since 1986. Race was the focal moderator. Logistic regression and proportional hazards models were used for data analysis.


Although blacks had lower general self-efficacy, this association was fully explained by socioeconomic factors (education and income). Our logistic regression suggested interactions between race and education, self-rated health, and stress on general self-efficacy at baseline. Baseline general self-efficacy was associated with risk of mortality in the pooled sample. Race interacted with baseline general self-efficacy on mortality risk, suggesting stronger association for whites than blacks.


Black-white differences exist in psychosocial and health factors associated with self-efficacy in the USA. Low general self-efficacy does not increase mortality risk for blacks. Future research should test whether socioeconomic status, race-related attitudes, world views, attributions, and locus of control can potentially explain why low self-efficacy is not associated with higher risk of mortality among American blacks.


Ethnic groups African Americans Blacks Mortality Self-efficacy 

Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA