The pathways from perceived discrimination to self-rated health: An investigation of the roles of distrust, social capital, and health behaviors

Danhong Chen, Tse Chuan Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although there has been extensive research on the adverse impacts of perceived discrimination on health, it remains unclear how perceived discrimination gets under the skin. This paper develops a comprehensive structural equation model (SEM) by incorporating both the direct effects of perceived discrimination on self-rated health (SRH), a powerful predictor for many health outcomes, and the indirect effects of perceived discrimination on SRH through health care system distrust, neighborhood social capital, and health behaviors and health conditions. Applying SEM to 9880 adults (aged between 18 and 100) in the 2008 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, we not only confirmed the positive and direct association between discrimination and poor or fair SRH, but also verified two underlying mechanisms: 1) perceived discrimination is associated with lower neighborhood social capital, which further contributes to poor or fair SRH; and 2) perceived discrimination is related to risky behaviors (e.g., reduced physical activity and sleep quality, and intensified smoking) that lead to worse health conditions, and then result in poor or fair SRH. Moreover, we found that perceived discrimination is negatively associated with health care system distrust, but did not find a significant relationship between distrust and poor or fair SRH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-73
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume104
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Health care system distrust
  • Neighborhood social capital
  • Perceived discrimination
  • Self-rated health
  • Structural equation model
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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