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Discrimination and Cardiovascular Disease in Blacks


Discrimination and Cardiovascular Disease in Blacks

Dolezsar, Cynthia M (2014) Discrimination and Cardiovascular Disease in Blacks. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis is comprised of three studies conducted to further understand the role of racial discrimination in the increased risk of hypertension among individuals of African descent in North America. These studies extend previous research by testing the proposed link between racism and cardiovascular functioning in a laboratory setting and by quantitatively summarizing research findings. The pool of studies having estimated the association between perceived discrimination and blood pressure has yielded mixed results. As well, previous literature reviews have been qualitative and thus did not ascertain the magnitude of the relationship nor have they quantified the effect of moderator variables. To fill this gap in the literature, in the first study a meta-analysis of previous research examining the link between perceived racism and blood pressure was conducted. Results revealed a small relation between perceived racism and hypertension, but not with resting blood pressure. Blacks also experience a higher degree of stress than Whites due to racial discrimination and its consequences. Over time, sustained activation from stress has been posited to lead to structural changes in the vascular system resulting in disease. Exaggerated cardiovascular reactivity to stress has been found to be predictive of future cardiovascular disease (Chida & Steptoe, 2010). Several studies have demonstrated increased vascular reactivity to stress in Blacks as compared to Whites. This line of research, however, has exclusively been tested on American samples. The second study therefore sought to examine reactivity in a Canadian population, where the macro culture for Blacks differs from the U.S. in important ways. Black men were shown to exhibit greater vascular response to laboratory stress. A direct association between perceived racism and reactivity to stress was, however, not observed. Several researchers have proposed that other factors moderate the relation between discrimination and cardiovascular functioning. Anger has extensively been studied in relation to cardiovascular disease but few studies have looked at its relation to perceiving racism. The final study revealed that the influence of perceived racism on blood pressure reactivity depends on how anger is typically expressed. Taken together, these explain the increased risk of cardiovascular disease among Blacks.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Dolezsar, Cynthia M
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:16 December 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Miller, Syd
ID Code:979592
Deposited On:16 Jul 2015 15:37
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:49
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