The Role of Social Support in Moderating the Relationship between Race and Hypertension in a Low-Income, Urban, Racially Integrated Community

Angel C. Gabriel, Caryn N. Bell, Janice V. Bowie, Thomas A. LaVeist, Roland J. Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the US, African Americans have a higher prevalence of hypertension than Whites. Previous studies show that social support contributes to the racial differences in hypertension but are limited in accounting for the social and environmental effects of racial residential segregation. We examined whether the association between race and hypertension varies by the level of social support among African Americans and Whites living in similar social and environmental conditions, specifically an urban, low-income, racially integrated community. Using data from the Exploring Health Disparities in Integrated Communities-Southwest Baltimore (EHDIC-SWB) sample, we hypothesized that social support moderates the relationship between race and hypertension and the racial difference in hypertension is smaller as the level of social support increases. Hypertension was defined as having systolic blood pressure greater than 140 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than 90 mmHg, or the participant reports of taking antihypertensive medication(s). The study only included participants that self-reported as “Black/African American” or “White.” Social support was measured as functional social support and marital status. After adjusting for demographics and health-related characteristics, we found no interaction between social support and race (DUFSS score, prevalence ratio 1.00; 95% confidence interval 0.99, 1.01; marital status, prevalence ratio 1.02; 95% confidence interval 0.86, 1.21); thus the hypothesis was not supported. A plausible explanation is that the buffering factor of social support cannot overcome the social and environmental conditions which the participants live in. Further, these findings emphasize social and environmental conditions of participants in EHDIC-SWB may equally impact race and hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-259
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Volume97
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Keywords

  • Hypertension
  • Racial health disparities
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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