Coping While Black: Chronic Illness, Mastery, and the Black-White Health Paradox
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Prior research indicates that there is a black-white paradox in the relationship between physical health and mental health among American adults. However, none have considered black-white differences in psychosocial coping and depressive symptoms during the transitional stages from health to chronic illness. Using a nationally representative sample of chronically ill adults from the American Changing Lives study, this study builds on literature on chronic illness and the black-white paradox to examine if (1) growth in depressive symptoms across 16 years differs for black and white adults as they transition from healthy to chronically ill and (2) if the protective coping resource, mastery, provides an equal benefit to black and white chronically ill adults during that transition. Findings indicate that among chronically ill adults, not only do black-white disparities exist in how much mastery each group possesses, but that mastery's utility as a protective resource against depressive symptoms differs by race, with black ill adults experiencing a poorer return on their mastery than white adults. Moreover, findings that black adults maintain the same level of depressive symptoms as white adults despite this mastery disadvantage provide additional support for Minorities' Diminishing Returns Theory and some support for an emerging theory of collective resilience with regard to black American mental health.
Racial disparities; Chronic illness; Collective resilience
Journal of racial and ethnic health disparities
DOI of Published Version
Hill-Joseph, Eundria, "Coping While Black: Chronic Illness, Mastery, and the Black-White Health Paradox" (2019). Faculty Articles & Research. 463.