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Health Psychol. 2014 Jan;33(1):35-42. doi: 10.1037/a0032777. Epub 2013 Jun 3.

Systemic racism moderates effects of provider racial biases on adherence to hypertension treatment for African Americans.

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Department of Psychology.



The purpose of the current study was to examine perceived exposure to systemic racism as a moderator of the effects of perceived exposure to provider racial biases on treatment adherence and mistrust of health care for a sample of African American hypertensive patients. We hypothesized that patients who endorsed high levels of systemic racism would exhibit poor adherence to hypertension treatment and increased mistrust in health care in relation to perceptions of exposure to provider racial biases.


The sample consisted of 100 African American patients who ranged in age from 24 to 82 years. All were diagnosed with hypertension and were recruited from an outpatient clinic located in the Southeastern region of the United States. Moderated regression analyses were performed to test the study hypotheses.


Findings revealed a positive, significant main effect for perceived provider racial biases in predicting mistrust of care. This finding suggested that an increase in mistrust of health care was associated with increased perceptions of provider biases. In predicting treatment adherence, a significant interaction revealed that patients who endorsed low and moderate degrees of exposure to systemic racism displayed poor adherence to treatment in relation to greater perceptions of provider racial biases.


The overall findings suggest that patients who perceive themselves as infrequently exposed to systemic racism possess the greatest risk for nonadherence to hypertension treatment in relation to increased perceptions of provider racial biases. Implications of the findings are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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