Online Program

Racial Differences in Individual and Contextual Predictors of Physical and Mental Health

Monday, November 2, 2015

Wenjie Sun, Ph.D., Dept. of Geography and Earth Science, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI
Jun Xu, Ph.D., Sociology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN
Fang Gong, Ph.D., Sociology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN
Objective: We examined the statistical and spatial distributions of several important cardiovascular diseases and mental disorders among major racial groups in the United States, especially Asian Americans. We focused on factors related to socio-demographic, psychosocial, and contextual factors (i.e., community SES, racial composition, and environmental hazards).

Methods: Data were obtained from a few benchmark years of the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System database, the most comprehensive and largest database of individual health outcomes and risk factors. We also supplemented it with contextual variables obtained from the census and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Individual and county level data were analyzed through multi-level statistical regression, mapping, spatial clustering, and spatial correlation/regression analysis.

Results: Socio-demographic, psychosocial, and contextual factors are all important predictors of major physical and mental health outcomes for major racial groups. However, the ways with which these factors affect the health status of various racial groups vary. For African Americans, low community SES and high in-group concentration usually predict their poor health; psychosocial characteristics are particularly important for Asians and Hispanics.

Conclusions: There is a wide array of factors at various levels of examination that can be associated with individual health status, but with varying degrees of significance for different racial groups. When it comes to public health policies and health-promoting resources for specific racial groups, we have to prioritize some over others in order to be more effective.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare differential impacts of socio-demographic, psychosocial, and contextual factors on several important cardiovascular diseases and mental disorders among different racial groups. Design more effective public health policies and health-promoting resources for specific racial groups based on the most significant risk factors.

Keyword(s): Risk Factors/Assesment, Heart Disease

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a BS and MA in Human Geography, a MS in Computer Science, and a Ph.D. in Geographical Information Science. I have been working on environmental health and spatial and social disparities of public health research projects since 2006.
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.