Race\ethnicity and hypertension: The role of social support

Caryn N. Bell, Roland J. Thorpe, Thomas A. Laveist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Social support is an important determinant of health, yet understanding of its contribution to racial disparities in hypertension is limited. Many studies have focused on the relationship between hypertension and social support, or race\ethnicity and social support, but few have examined the inter-relationship between race\ethnicity, social support, and hypertension. The objective of this study was to determine whether the relationship between race\ethnicity and hypertension varied by level of social support.MethodsData from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2006 were used to calculate the odds ratios (ORs) for the association between hypertension and race\ethnicity by levels of social support. Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure (BP) 140mmHg and\or diastolic BP 90mmHg or having been prescribed antihypertensive medication. Social support was defined by emotional and financial support, and marital status.ResultsBlack\white ORs of hypertension increased as social support decreased; that is, the race difference among those without social support was larger compared to those with social support. Contrarily, Mexican American\white ethnic differences were only observed among those with social support; Mexican Americans with social support had lower odds of hypertension than their white counterparts.ConclusionsThis study observed that the relationship between race (but not ethnicity) and hypertension varies by social support level. Results suggest there may be beneficial effects of social support on hypertension among blacks, however, the possible impact of social support on ethnic differences in hypertension remains unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-540
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Hypertension
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Psychosocial factors
  • Race\ethnicity
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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