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J Health Soc Behav. 1989 Mar;30(1):131-46.

Race, socioeconomic status, and psychological distress: an examination of differential vulnerability.


Using data from a 1985 epidemiological survey of 2,115 adults in Florida, this research has two goals: it tests the proposition that race and SES jointly influence mental health, and it examines the contribution of undesirable life events and economic problems to psychological distress across SES groups. Using multiple indicators of SES and mental health, we found that the evidence for a model of joint influence of race and SES on mental health varied with the measures being used. The most general conclusion is that SES interacts with race to increase psychological symptoms of distress. Partitioning the sample into three SES categories (low, middle, high), we examined the contribution of stressors to the greater distress among lower-SES blacks compared to other blacks and lower-SES whites. Lower-SES blacks are more vulnerable than lower-SES whites to the impact of undesirable events, but they are less vulnerable than lower-SES whites to the impact of economic problems. Lower-SES blacks are more vulnerable than middle-SES blacks to the impact of both discrete events and economic problems. Limitations of the study indicate a need for future longitudinal studies with measures of coping resources and support networks to further our understanding of the race, social class and psychological distress relationship.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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