An Examination of the Sociodemographic and Health Determinants of Major Depressive Disorder Among Black Women

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2017 Dec;4(6):1074-1082. doi: 10.1007/s40615-016-0312-2. Epub 2016 Dec 7.


Objectives: Black women disproportionately share the distribution of risk factors for physical and mental illnesses. The goal of this study was to examine the sociodemographic and health correlates of major depressive disorder (MDD) symptoms among black women.

Methods: Pooled data from the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used to assess the sociodemographic and health correlates of MDD symptoms among black women (n = 227). Multivariate logistic regression techniques assessed the association between MDD symptoms and age, socioeconomic status, health status, and health behaviors.

Results: Poverty income ratio and smoking status were significantly associated with the likelihood of having MDD symptoms. Black women who were smokers were also more likely to have MDD symptoms compared to non-smokers [OR = 8.05, 95% CI = (4.56, 14.23)]. After controlling for all other socioeconomic and health variables, this association remained statistically significant. In addition, after controlling for all other variables, the multivariate analyses showed that black women below 299% federal poverty level (FPL) were nearly three times more likely to have MDD symptoms compared to women above 300% FPL [OR = 2.82, 95% CI = (1.02, 7.96)].

Conclusions: These analyses suggest that poverty and smoking status are associated with MDD symptoms among black women. A deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms and key factors which influence MDD symptoms are needed in order to develop and create mental health programs targeting women of color.

Keywords: Black women; Depression; Health disparities; Major depressive disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Poverty / ethnology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Social Determinants of Health / ethnology*
  • United States / epidemiology