Racial discrimination, psychological distress, and self-rated health among US-born and foreign-born Black Americans

Am J Public Health. 2011 Sep;101(9):1704-13. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300168. Epub 2011 Jul 21.

Abstract

Objectives: We investigated associations among racial discrimination, psychological distress, and self-rated health among US-born and immigrant Black Americans.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of a cohort of employed working-class Black Americans (193 US-born, 275 foreign-born).

Results: Both US-born and foreign-born Black participants had high levels of exposure to poverty (51% and 57%, respectively) and racial discrimination (76% and 60%) and reported high levels of severe psychological distress (14% and 16% had a Kessler 6 [K6] score of 13 or greater); 17% and 7% reported fair or poor health. After controlling for relevant covariates, their risk parameters for racial discrimination (high vs no exposure) were 4.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.3, 5.6) and 3.3 (95% CI = 2.1, 4.5), respectively, for continuous K6 score; corresponding odds ratios for severe psychological distress were 6.9 (95% CI = 1.4, 35.7) and 6.8 (95% CI = 2.5, 18.3). No associations existed between racial discrimination and self-reported health, suggesting that an underlying propensity to report adversity does not account for our psychological distress findings.

Conclusions: Our results attest to the salience of racial discrimination, nativity, and socioeconomic position in understanding the experiences and psychological health of Black Americans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Labor Unions / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice*
  • Self Report
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*