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Health Care Women Int. 1999 May-Jun;20(3):279-89.

The psychosocial context of Black women's health.

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Department of Sociology, University of North Texas, Denton 76203-6675, USA.


Researchers have demonstrated that Black women exhibit a disproportionate risk of ill health. We examined the relationship between psychosocial factors, including economic status, race-based social inequality, gender-based violence, and the health status of 323 Black women between the ages of 18 and 65. Black women from a community sample completed a health survey with open-ended responses. Results indicated that women in lower economic groups are more likely to be treated for allergies (p = < .05) and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID; p = < .01). Women who experienced increased incidents of race-based social inequality received more medical treatments for yeast infections, pregnancy-related problems, allergies, and PID. Those with histories of physical, psychological, and early sexual abuse are more likely to be treated for depression, allergies, yeast infections, and hypertension. In addition, qualitative data examined the process in which economic, race-based social inequality, and gender-based violence contributed to the ill health of Black women. The implications of these findings suggest that understanding the psychosocial context is essential for appropriate clinical practice. Additionally, future research should conceptualize health as a complex interaction of psychosocial risks that have a profound effect on the health status of Black women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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