247335 Is discrimination associated with medical symptoms and psychological distress among women with substance use disorders?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sandra Arevalo , Department of Sociology, Northeastern University, Chestnut Hill, MA
Theresa L. Osypuk, SD, SM , Northeastern University, Bouve College of Health Sciences, Boston, MA
Hortensia Amaro, PhD , Institute on Urban Health Research, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
While a significant body of work has established that racial discrimination adversely affects health, few studies have assessed discrimination stemming from other dimensions of social inequalities, in addition to discrimination due to race, and few have examined this association after controlling for other potentially confounding psychosocial stressors. Our study investigated whether two distinct forms of perceived discrimination were each positively associated with medical symptomatology and psychological distress over and above other psychosocial stressors and whether these associations differed by race/ethnicity. Participants were 437 clients in treatment for substance use disorders in Massachusetts. Multiple linear regression models, overall and stratified by race/ethnicity, assessed associations of two forms of perceived discrimination with medical symptomatology and psychological distress after controlling for lifetime stressors, perceived stress, posttraumatic stress symptomatology and alcohol and drug use. Our findings showed that the two forms of perceived discrimination were significantly associated with higher medical symptomatology (B=.113, p=.01 & B=.101, p=.05) and higher psychological distress (B=.111, p=.01 & B=.103, p=.05) over and above other potential confounding psychosocial stressors. Models stratified by race/ethnicity showed adverse discrimination-health associations significant only for Whites and Latinas. Understanding perceived discrimination based on a range of social factors is important for reducing racial/ethnic health disparities and the disproportionate number of medical burden consequences harmfully affecting minority women with substance use disorders.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Provision of health care to the public
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
To describe the way in which perceived discrimination is associated with the physical and mental health of women with substance abuse disorders and to compare these associations among white, black and Latina women.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Doctoral student of Sociology and a research associate at Northeastern University. I have previous experience with poster presentation as well as oral presentations. My main research interest is in health disparities and in identifying pathways that serve as entry points for intervention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.