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Am J Public Health. 2008 Jul;98(7):1241-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.114397. Epub 2008 May 29.

Perceived discrimination and mortality in a population-based study of older adults.

Author information

1
Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, Rush University Medical Center, 600 S. Paulina, Suite 1038, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. lbarnes1@rush.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We examined the relation of individual-level perceived discrimination to mortality in a biracial, population-based sample.

METHODS:

Participants were 4154 older adults from the Chicago Health and Aging Project who underwent up to 2 interviews over 4.5 years. Perceived discrimination was measured at baseline, and vital status was obtained at each follow-up and verified through the National Death Index.

RESULTS:

During follow-up, 1166 deaths occurred. Participants reporting more perceived discrimination had a higher relative risk of death (hazard ratio [HR]= 1.05; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.01, 1.09). This association was independent of differences in negative affect or chronic illness and appeared to be stronger among Whites than among Blacks (Whites: HR=1.12; 95% CI=1.04, 1.20; Blacks: HR=1.03; 95% CI=0.99, 1.07). Secondary analyses revealed that the relation to mortality was related to discriminatory experiences of a more demeaning nature and that racial differences were no longer significant when the sample was restricted to respondents interviewed by someone of the same race.

CONCLUSIONS:

Perceived discrimination was associated with increased mortality risk in a general population of older adults. The results suggest that subjective experience of interpersonal mistreatment is toxic in old age. This study adds to a growing literature documenting discrimination as an important social determinant of health.

PMID:
18511732
PMCID:
PMC2424090
DOI:
10.2105/AJPH.2007.114397
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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