Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Psychology, Clinical-Community

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Matthew J. Taylor, Ph.D.


Ann M. Steffen, Ph.D.

Zoe D. Peterson, Ph.D.

Eddie M. Clark, Ph.D.


Racial discrimination is a likely contributor to disparate health outcomes for African-American and Hispanic-Americans. The current study elaborates on previous research by assessing the impact of three coping variables, substance use, emotional eating, and social support, which may explain the relationship between racial discrimination and poorer perceptions physical functioning and three health maladies, including hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the coping responses were hypothesized to serve as protective factors against the development of depression and anger symptoms. A total of 424 Hispanic, African-American participants between the ages of 18 and 65 completed an online survey. A six variable model was tested using structural equation modeling. Within this model the roles of the coping variables as response to racial discrimination were assessed in conjunction with their subsequent impact on mental and physical health. Differences between African-American and Hispanic participants in the structural model were found, as well as gender-based differences. Meditated logistic regression methods were applied to test the coping variables as mediators in the relationship between racial discrimination and each health malady. Exposure to racial discrimination was associated with increase anger and depressive symptoms, and poorer perceptions of physical health. Substance use and emotional eating, but not social support partially explained the link between discrimination and physical health, while strengthening the relationship between discrimination and mental health. Racial discrimination predicted increased likelihood of reporting high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, but not diabetes. Emotional eating was the only coping variable that partially explained the relationship between racial discrimination and the report of a diagnosis of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

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