Racial/Ethnic Contrasts in the Relationships between Physical Disability, Perceived Discrimination, and Depressive Symptoms




The systematic deprivation of equal access to valued opportunities has greatly harmed the disadvantaged. Discrimination, whether it is based on gender, race, sexual orientation, or physical health exacts a high toll. This is especially true with respect to the role of race and equality in the USA today. This paper attempts to evaluate the significance of perceived discrimination among a multiethnic sample of physically disabled and non-disabled study participants.


We employ survey data from a community-based multiethnic sample of study participants to assess whether physical disability increases perceptions of discrimination across racial/ethnic groups. Additionally, we assess whether physical disability impacts the relationship between discrimination and depressive symptoms and whether this relationship is consistent across race/ethnicity.


Descriptive and multivariate analyses indicate that disabled whites and Hispanics report higher levels of discrimination than their non-disabled counterparts. However, this pattern was not observed among black respondents who report high levels of discrimination regardless of their disability status. OLS models indicate that among Hispanics, physical disability moderates the relationship between discrimination and depressive symptoms. Among black and white study participants, physical disability does not moderate this relationship.


Taken together, the results demonstrate the continuing significance of race as a source of discrimination and a health risk.


Race/ethnicity Physical disability Discrimination Depressive symptoms Stress 


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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