Objectives: Research suggests that following a myocardial infarction (MI), women under the age of 60 have more elevated depressive symptoms and adverse outcomes than similarly aged men. Identifying risk factors that contribute to gender differences in depressive symptoms among this group may be critical to the development of psychosocial interventions. Experiences of discrimination may be an important correlate of depressive symptoms in this group; however, studies of this relationship have largely been cross-sectional and focused on healthy populations. This study examines longitudinal associations among gender, discrimination, and depressive symptoms in a young post-MI cohort.
Methods: Participants were 313 adults from the Myocardial Infarction and Mental Stress Ischemia Study 2 of young (≤60 yrs) post-MI patients. At baseline and 6 month follow-up, depressive symptoms were measured with the Beck Depression Inventory-II and discrimination was assessed with the 10-item version Everyday Discrimination scale. Linear regression models were used to assess the longitudinal association between reports of discrimination and depressive symptoms adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, psychosocial factors and health status indicators and tested for gender differences.
Results: The mean age was 51.2, 49.6% were women, and 69.5% were African-American. Although the discrimination-by-gender interaction was marginally significant (p=.09) in the fully adjusted model, findings suggest that the association between changes in reports of discrimination and depressive symptoms over time may be more pronounced for women (β=.61, standard error=.15, p<.001) than men (β=.27, standard error=.13, p=.033).
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that discrimination is a risk factor for depressive symptoms in young post-MI populations over time.