Perceived Interpersonal Discrimination and Older Women’s Mental Health: Accumulation across Domains, Attributions and Time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Experiencing discrimination is associated with poor mental health, but how cumulative experiences of perceived interpersonal discrimination across attributions, domains, and time are associated with mental disorders is still unknown. Using data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (1996-2008) we apply latent class analysis and generalized linear models to estimate the association between cumulative exposure to perceived interpersonal discrimination and older women’s mental health. We find four classes of perceived interpersonal discrimination, ranging from cumulative exposure to discrimination over attributions, domains, and time, to none or minimal reports of discrimination. Women who experienced cumulative perceived interpersonal discrimination over time, and across attributions and domains, had the highest risk of depression compared to women in all other classes. This was true for all women regardless of race/ethnicity, although the type and severity of perceived discrimination differed across racial/ethnic groups. Cumulative exposure to perceived interpersonal discrimination across attributions, domains, and time has an incremental negative long-term association on mental health. Studies that examine exposure to perceived discrimination due to a single attribution, in one domain, or one point in time underestimate the magnitude and complexity of discrimination, and its association with health.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)924-932
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
Early online date4 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

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