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Much attention has been directed toward understanding the mental health advantage of African Americans relative to their more privileged White counterparts. One understudied mechanism is the role of coping strategies in the face of psychosocial factors such as racial discrimination. In this chapter, we study how seven distinct coping strategies are associated with depressive symptoms and serious psychological distress among older African Americans, with special emphasis on how the frequency of everyday racial discrimination and gender shape the association between coping and mental health. We find that among African American women aged 55 and older, the combination of blaming oneself and high levels of everyday racial discrimination is especially unfavorable for depressive symptoms, while prayer is protective against psychological distress under conditions of high levels of everyday racial discrimination. For African American men aged 55 and older under high levels of everyday racial discrimination, working harder to prove “them” wrong is detrimental to both mental health outcomes.
Annual Review of Gerontology & Geriatrics – Springer Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 2022
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