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. 2020 Feb;25(2):161-176.
doi: 10.1080/13557858.2017.1398314. Epub 2017 Nov 6.

The Role of Feature-Based Discrimination in Driving Health Disparities Among Black Americans

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The Role of Feature-Based Discrimination in Driving Health Disparities Among Black Americans

Randl B Dent et al. Ethn Health. .

Abstract

Objective: A growing body of research finds that darker skin tone is often associated with poorer physical and mental health in Blacks. However, the psychosocial mechanisms underlying the skin tone-health link remain elusive. The present study seeks to address this knowledge gap by investigating the direct and indirect (through perceived discrimination, socioeconomic status, and self-esteem) effects of skin tone on self-reported physical and mental health.Design: An urban sample of 130 Blacks aged 35 and above completed a self-administered computerized survey as a part of larger cross-sectional study.Results: Self-esteem played a particularly important role in mediating the associations between skin tone and self-reported physical and mental health. This suggests that self-esteem could be a point of intervention to help Blacks with darker skin tone achieve better health.Conclusion: The present study highlights the important role feature-based discrimination plays in determining mental and physical health outcomes among Blacks.

Keywords: Skin tone; health disparities; perceived discrimination; self-esteem; socioeconomic status.

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