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Dimensions of Perceived Racism and Self-Reported Health: Examination of Racial/Ethnic Differences and Potential Mediators

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Annals of Behavioral Medicine

Abstract

Background

Many details of the negative relationship between perceived racial/ethnic discrimination and health are poorly understood.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to examine racial/ethnic differences in the relationship between perceived discrimination and self-reported health, identify dimensions of discrimination that drive this relationship, and explore psychological mediators.

Methods

Asian, Black, and Latino(a) adults (N = 734) completed measures of perceived racial/ethnic discrimination, self-reported health, depression, anxiety, and cynical hostility.

Results

The association between perceived discrimination and poor self-reported health was significant and did not differ across racial/ethnic subgroups. Race-related social exclusion and threat/harassment uniquely contributed to poor health for all groups. Depression, anxiety, and cynical hostility fully mediated the effect of social exclusion on health, but did not fully explain the effect of threat.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that noxious effects of race-related exclusion and threat transcend between-group differences in discriminatory experiences. The effects of race-related exclusion and threat on health, however, may operate through different mechanisms.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded in part by seed grants from St. John's University and by minority supplements from NHLBI grant no. R01 HL065890 to the first author. This material is the result of work partially supported by resources and the use of facilities at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System in Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Hausmann was supported by VA Health Services Research and Development Career Development Awards (RCD 06-287 & ER 0280-1).

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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Brondolo, E., Hausmann, L.R.M., Jhalani, J. et al. Dimensions of Perceived Racism and Self-Reported Health: Examination of Racial/Ethnic Differences and Potential Mediators. ann. behav. med. 42, 14–28 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-011-9265-1

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