Abstract

Background: To date, research on racial discrimination and health typically has employed explicit self-report measures, despite their potentially being affected by what people are able and willing to say. We accordingly employed an Implicit Association Test (IAT) for racial discrimination, first developed and used in two recent published studies, and measured associations of the explicit and implicit discrimination measures with each other, socioeconomic and psychosocial variables, and smoking.

Methodology/Principal Findings: Among the 504 black and 501 white US-born participants, age 35-64, randomly recruited in 2008-2010 from 4 community health centers in Boston, MA, black participants were over 1.5 times more likely (p<0.05) to be worse off economically (e.g., for poverty and low education) and have higher social desirability scores (43.8 vs. 28.2); their explicit discrimination exposure was also 2.5 to 3.7 times higher (p<0.05) depending on the measure used, with over 60% reporting exposure in 3 or more domains and within the last year. Higher IAT scores for target vs. perpetrator of discrimination occurred for the black versus white participants: for "black person vs. white person": 0.26 vs. 0.13; and for "me vs. them": 0.24 vs. 0.19. In both groups, only low non-significant correlations existed between the implicit and explicit discrimination measures; social desirability was significantly associated with the explicit but not implicit measures. Although neither the explicit nor implicit discrimination measures were associated with odds of being a current smoker, the excess risk for black participants (controlling for age and gender) rose in models that also controlled for the racial discrimination and psychosocial variables; additional control for socioeconomic position sharply reduced and rendered the association null.

Conclusions: Implicit and explicit measures of racial discrimination are not equivalent and both warrant use in research on racial discrimination and health, along with data on socioeconomic position and social desirability.

Notes

Originally published in PLoS ONE 6(11): e27636. 2011. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027636

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging (1 R01 AG027122-01).

Keywords

racial discrimination, community health centers, health disparities, Implicit Association Test (IAT), "My Body, My Story", smoking

Subject Categories

Race discrimination - Research

Disciplines

Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Inequality and Stratification | Race and Ethnicity

Publisher

Public Library of Science

Publication Date

11-18-2011

Rights Information

Copyright 2011.

Restrictions

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Rights Holder

Nancy Krieger, et al.

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fig1.tif (387 kB)
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fig2.tif (1830 kB)
Figure 2

table1.tif (813 kB)
Table 1

table2.tif (673 kB)
Table 2

table3.tif (616 kB)
Table 3

table4.tif (480 kB)
Table 4

table5.tif (648 kB)
Table 5

table6.tif (493 kB)
Table 6

table7.tif (366 kB)
Table 7

table8.tif (453 kB)
Table 8

table9.tif (765 kB)
Table 9

table10.tif (769 kB)
Table 10

table11.tif (766 kB)
Table 11

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