Faculty Member

Differences in health between racial groups in the United States are significant and persistent. Many studies have documented these differences as a result of a variety of different social factors. An emerging emphasis is the impact of racism in its various forms on physical and mental health. Social stress theory conceptualizes racism as a social stresssor which can produce negative health consequences for racial minorities. This study uses binary logit and negative binomial regression models of four items from the 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to test social stress theory and examine the relationship between stress symptoms from perceived racism and overall health (N = 32,585). The effect of race on the experience of emotional and physical stress symptoms from racism is substantial. Furthermore, experiencing both emotional and physical stress from perceived racist treatment is an important factor in predicting the number of poor mental and physical health days, indicating that the experience of stress from perceived racism is related to overall poorer health.