Objectives: Our understanding of the relationships between perceived discrimination and health was limited by the cross-sectional design of most previous studies. We examined the longitudinal association of self-reported everyday discrimination with depressive symptoms and self-rated general health.
Methods: Data came from 2 waves (1996 and 2001) of the Eastside Village Health Worker Partnership survey, a community-based participatory survey of African American women living on Detroit's east side (n=343). We use longitudinal models to test the hypothesis that a change in everyday discrimination over time is associated with a change in self-reported symptoms of depression (positive) and on self-reported general health status (negative).
Results: We found that a change over time in discrimination was significantly associated with a change over time in depressive symptoms (positive) (b=0.125; P<.001) and self-rated general health (negative) (b=-0.163; P<.05) independent of age, education, or income.
Conclusions: The results reported here are consistent with the hypothesis that everyday encounters with discrimination are causally associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes. In this sample of African American women, this association holds above and beyond the effects of income and education.