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J Health Dispar Res Pract. 2017 Winter;10(4):52-60.

Perceptions of Chronic Disease Among Older African Americans: A Qualitative Analysis.

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Department of Sociology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Dept. of Family Medicine & Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School.
Department of Psychology, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC 27411 USA.
Center on Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708 USA.


Research has documented that African Americans suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases when compared to the general population. Yet, limited research examines older African Americans' perceptions about having chronic diseases. Accordingly, the first aim of the study provided insight into this disparity with the intent of revealing how older African Americans feel about their overall health, and how much they understand about their individual chronic disease(s). The second aim was to gather information about strategies and coping mechanisms older African Americans use to manage their chronic diseases. The purpose of this aim was to determine if any of the strategies they employed were related to the positive health outcomes. Two focus groups were conducted with African American older adults who live in community settings. The results from the focus groups indicate that older African Americans are aware of the conditions they have and have developed strong coping methods to help them manage. Recommendations are provided for future research studies and chronic disease management programs.


coping behavior; disease management; older African Americans; perceptions


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