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Department 1

Health Sciences


In approaching the study of racial discrimination and health, the neighborhood and individual-level antecedents of perceived discrimination need further exploration. We investigated the relationship between neighborhood and individual-level socioeconomic position (SEP), neighborhood racial composition, and perceived racial discrimination in a cohort of African-American and White women age 40-79 from Connecticut, USA.

Design. The logistic regression analysis included 1249 women (39% African- American and 61% White). Neighborhood-level SEP and racial composition were determined using 1990 census tract information. Individual-level SEP indicators included income, education, and occupation. Perceived racial discrimination was measured as lifetime experience in seven situations.

Results. For African-American women, living in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods was associated with fewer reports of racial discrimination (odds ratio (OR) 0.44; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.26, 0.75), with results attenuated after adjustment for individual-level SEP (OR 0.54, CI: 0.29, 1.03), and additional adjustment for neighborhood racial composition (OR 0.70, CI: 0.30, 1.63). African-American women with 12 years of education or less were less likely to report racial discrimination, compared with women with more than 12 years of education (OR 0.57, CI: 0.33, 0.98 (12 years); OR 0.51, CI: 0.26, 0.99 (less than 12 years)) in the fully adjusted model. For White women, neither neighborhood-level SEP nor individual-level SEP was associated with perceived racial discrimination.

Conclusion. Individual and neighborhood-level SEP may be important in understanding how racial discrimination is perceived, reported, processed, and how it may influence health. In order to fully assess the role of racism in future studies, inclusion of additional dimensions of discrimination may be warranted.