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"Experiences with Discrimination for Black Americans: Implications for Coping and Health"

Carl V. Hill, MPH, Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health, The University of Michigan, 109 S. Observatory Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, 713-320-3331, hillcv@umich.edu and Harold Neighbors, PhD, Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health, University of Michigan, School of Public Health, 109 S. Observatory, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.

The stress process predicts that because life is more stressful for Black Americans than White Americans, the mental health of Black Americans should be worse than that of Whites. True for milder indicators like happiness, but paradoxically, the prevalence of depression is lower for Black Americans when compared to Whites. In this presentation, we argue that models of stress are under-specified and there is a tendency to ignore racial variation in coping capacity. Black Americans' socio-political history of responding to chronic stress may build unique, culturally based factors that relate to discrimination differently. We argue further that it is a tendency to be "on-guard" for the detection of discrimination that shapes the stress process for Black Americans. This presentation analyzes data from the 1995 Detroit Area Study (DAS) regarding perceptions of discrimination among 586 Black and 520 White Americans. Bivariate analyses indicates that Black Americans are more likely than Whites to choose more vigilant coping options when faced with discrimination. These coping decisions may be rooted in cultural-based factors that build unique defenses for this population.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Stress, Minority Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Race, Culture, Behavior and the Environment: A National Debate on Causes of Health Disparities

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA