Objectives. We investigated the impact of reported racism on the mental health of African Americans at cross-sectional time points and longitudinally, over the course of 1 year. Methods. The Black Linking Inequality, Feelings, and the Environment (LIFE) Study recruited Black residents (n = 144) from a probability sample of 2 predominantly Black New York City neighborhoods during December 2011 to June 2013. Respondents completed self-report surveys, including multiple measures of racism. We conducted assessments at baseline, 2-month follow-up, and 1-year follow-up. Weighted multivariate linear regression models assessed changes in racism and health over time. Results. Cross-sectional results varied by time point and by outcome, with only some measures associated with distress, and effects were stronger for poor mental health days than for depression. Individuals who denied thinking about their race fared worst. Longitudinally, increasing frequencies of racism predicted worse mental health across all 3 outcomes. Conclusions. These results support theories of racism as a health-defeating stressor and are among the few that show temporal associations with health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health