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J Health Soc Behav. 2014 Mar;55(1):3-19. doi: 10.1177/0022146514521215.

Multiple disadvantaged statuses and health: the role of multiple forms of discrimination.

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1University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, USA.


The double disadvantage hypothesis predicts that adults who hold more than one disadvantaged status may experience worse health than their singly disadvantaged and privileged counterparts. Research that has tested this thesis has yielded mixed findings due partly to a failure to examine the role of discrimination. This article uses data from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (N = 2,647) to investigate the relationship between multiple disadvantaged statuses and health, and whether multiple forms of interpersonal discrimination contribute to this association. The results suggest that multiply disadvantaged adults are more likely to experience major depression, poor physical health, and functional limitations than their singly disadvantaged and privileged counterparts. Further, multiple forms of discrimination partially mediate the relationship between multiple stigmatized statuses and health. Taken together, these findings suggest that multiply disadvantaged adults do face a "double disadvantage" in health, in part, because of their disproportionate exposure to discrimination.


disadvantage; discrimination; disparities; distress; intersectionality; mental health; physical health

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