Racial Differences in Physical and Mental Health

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WILLIAMS, DAVID R. and YU, YAN and JACKSON, JAMES S. and ANDERSON, NORMAN B. (1997) Racial Differences in Physical and Mental Health. Journal of Health Psychology, 2 (3). pp. 335-351.


This article examines the extent to which racial differences in socio-economic status (SES), social class and acute and chronic indicators of perceived discrimination, as well as general measures of stress can account for black-white differences in self-reported measures of physical and mental health. The observed racial differences in health were markedly reduced when adjusted for education and especially income. However, both perceived discrimination and more traditional measures of stress are related to health and play an incremental role in accounting for differences between the races in health status. These findings underscore the need for research efforts to identify the complex ways in which economic and non-economic forms of discrimination relate to each other and combine with socio-economic position and other risk factors and resources to affect health.