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Inequities in Anticipatory Stress of Police Brutality and Depressed Mood Among Women



Police brutality towards racially minoritized populations is structural racism. Even though most of the research on the health impacts of police brutality centers the experiences of men, women are also harmed by this structural violence.


We identify factors associated with the anticipatory stress of police brutality among women and examine its relationship with depressed mood across ethno-racial categories.


Data came from the cross-sectional Survey of the Health of Urban Residents in the United States (N = 2796). Logistic regressions were used to identify factors associated with odds of always worrying about the possibility of becoming a victim of police brutality and to examine its association with depression among Latinas, Black, and White women.


Odds of always worrying about police brutality were greater among Black women and Latinas compared to White women. Household history of incarceration was associated with anticipation of police brutality among Black women and Latinas but not among White women. Black women and Latinas with constant anticipation of police brutality and history of incarceration of a household member during their childhood had elevated odds of depressed mood.


Although police brutality harms all women, the stressful anticipation of police brutality does not burden all women equally. Structural racism in communities of color continues to be associated with the anticipatory stress of police brutality and it harms the mental health of women of color. Developing policies to eliminate structural racism and for the allocation of resources to persons who are strongly impacted by these injustices is important.

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Data collection for this work was supported by Faculty Innovation Grant (2017), Lehigh University. The authors declare that no additional funds, grants, or other support were received during the preparation of this manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations



Sirry Alang conceptualized the study and conducted the analyses. Rahwa Haile and Sirry Alang wrote the first draft of the manuscript. Mary Mitsdarffer and Cortney VanHook assisted with writing the background and framing context and the relevance of the article. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sirry Alang.

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The Lehigh University Institutional Review Board reviewed and determined the study as exempt.

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Informed consent was obtained from all respondents in the Survey of the Health of Urban residents.

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The authors declare no competing interests

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Alang, S., Haile, R., Mitsdarffer, M.L. et al. Inequities in Anticipatory Stress of Police Brutality and Depressed Mood Among Women. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (2022).

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  • Police brutality
  • Police violence
  • Police brutality and mental health
  • Anticipatory stressors and mental health
  • Police brutality against women