Perceived discrimination and social networks among older African Americans and Caribbean blacks

Gillian L Marshall, Tessa C Rue
Family & Community Health 2012, 35 (4): 300-11
The relationship between perceived discrimination and depressive symptoms among older black American populations is poorly understood. Although a small number of studies have examined the relationship between stress and social support, few have examined the association between perceived discrimination, social networks, and depressive symptoms among a representative sample of older racial and ethnic groups. This study examines (a) the relationship between sociodemographic factors, perceived discrimination and depressive symptoms and (b) social networks as a potential moderator in the perceived discrimination and depressive symptom relationship between 2 groups of older black Americans. This was a cross-sectional study using data from the National Survey of American Life with a sample of older African Americans (N = 837) and Caribbean blacks (N = 271). Depressive symptoms were assessed using the 12-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale. Linear regression analyses were used to predict depressive symptoms. The relationship between perceived discrimination and depressive symptoms was significant in both groups. Social networks contributed as a protective factor for depressive symptoms for both groups. However, there was no significant moderation effect. Results suggest that regardless of ethnic affiliation, the experience of perceived discrimination is similar in both groups and is a risk factor for depressive symptoms. Future research is needed in this area to better understand the associations between sociodemographic factors, perceived discrimination, social networks, and their impact on depressive symptoms.

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