Self-reported Instances of Major Discrimination, Race/Ethnicity, and Inflammation Among Older Adults: Evidence From the Health and Retirement Study

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: This study examines the relationship between self-reported instances of major discrimination and inflammation among older adults, and explores whether this relationship varies in accordance with race/ethnicity. We hypothesized that self-reported instances of major discrimination would be associated with higher levels of high-risk inflammation and that this relationship would be stronger for racial/ethnic minorities than whites. METHODS: Data from the 2006/2008 Health and Retirement Study, an ongoing biennial nationally representative sample of older adults in the United States, were used to collect measures of self-reported instances of major discrimination and high-risk C-reactive protein (CRP), which was assayed from blood samples. Modified Poisson regression with robust standard errors was applied to estimate the prevalence ratios of self-reported instances of major discrimination, as it relates to high-risk CRP (CRP ≥ 22 kg/m2), and test whether this relationship varies by race/ethnicity. RESULTS: Respondents who experienced any instances of major discrimination had a higher likelihood of high-risk CRP (prevalence ratio [PR]: 1.14, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.07-1.22) than those who did not report experiencing any instances of major discrimination. This association was independent of differences in newly diagnosed health conditions and socioeconomic status. The relationship between any self-reported instance of major discrimination and high-risk CRP was weaker for blacks than whites (PR: 0.81, 95% CI = 0.69-0.95). CONCLUSIONS: Our study confirms that self-reported instances of major lifetime discrimination is a psychosocial factor that is adversely associated with high-risk CRP among older adults; this association is especially pronounced among older whites. Future studies among this population are required to examine whether the relationship between self-reported instances of major discrimination and high-risk CRP changes over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-296
Number of pages6
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences
Volume75
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 20 2020

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Keywords

  • Discrimination
  • Inflammation
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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