Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 29–38 | Cite as

Racial Differences in Mortality in Older Adults: Factors Beyond Socioeconomic Status

  • Roland J. ThorpeJr
  • Annemarie Koster
  • Hans Bosma
  • Tamara B. Harris
  • Eleanor M. Simonsick
  • Jacques Th. M. van Eijk
  • Gertrudis I. J. M. Kempen
  • Anne B. Newman
  • Suzanne Satterfield
  • Susan M. Rubin
  • Stephen B. Kritchevsky
  • for the Health ABC Study
Original Article



Little is known about the simultaneous effect of socioeconomic status (SES), psychosocial, and health-related factors on race differences in mortality in older adults.


This study examined the association between race and mortality and the role of SES, health insurance, psychosocial factors, behavioral factors, and health-related factors in explaining these differences.


Data consisted of 2,938 adults participating in the Health, Aging and Body Composition study. Mortality was assessed over 8 years.


SES differences accounted for 60% of the racial differences in all-cause mortality; behavioral factors and self-rated health further reduced the disparity. The racial differences in coronary heart disease mortality were completely explained by SES. Health insurance and behavioral factors accounted for some, but not all, of the race differences in cancer mortality.


Race-related risk factors for mortality may differ by the underlying cause of mortality.


Race SES Behavior Psychosocial Mortality Older adults Aging 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roland J. ThorpeJr
    • 1
  • Annemarie Koster
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hans Bosma
    • 2
  • Tamara B. Harris
    • 3
  • Eleanor M. Simonsick
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jacques Th. M. van Eijk
    • 2
  • Gertrudis I. J. M. Kempen
    • 2
  • Anne B. Newman
    • 6
  • Suzanne Satterfield
    • 7
  • Susan M. Rubin
    • 8
  • Stephen B. Kritchevsky
    • 9
  • for the Health ABC Study
  1. 1.Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Department of Health Policy and ManagementThe Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life SciencesUniversiteit MaastrichtMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, National Institute on AgingBethesdaUSA
  4. 4.Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Department of MedicineJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Clinical Research Branch, National Institute on AgingBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  7. 7.Department of Preventive MedicineUniversity of Tennessee College of MedicineMemphisUSA
  8. 8.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  9. 9.Sticht Center on Aging, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric MedicineWake Forest University School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

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