The Relevance of Depression, Alexithymia and Internalized Racism to Blood Pressure in African Americans

By Denise Hatter-Fisher and William Harper.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The study’s main purpose was to ascertain the predictive power of psychosocial variables (i.e. depression, alexithymia and internalized racism) for blood pressure in a community of African Americans. The variables are infrequently compositely studied in communities of color but purportedly could add clarity to the perennial blood pressure problem observed in the African American community. The variables were also chosen given their empirically demonstrated relationship to stress and the indisputable relationship between chronic stress and blood pressure, particularly systolic blood pressure. The sample comprised 353 African Americans living in a Midwest U.S. metropolis. They attended community health events between 2007 and 2009 and were incentivized to respond to a research protocol that included blood pressure measurements and psychological instruments designed to measure the variables of interest. Correlational, including regression analyses, and ANOVA were used to test four study hypotheses. The results showed mixed support for the hypotheses and strongly implied alexithymia and internalized racism have relevance to the ongoing discussion re African Americans’ disproportionate representation among those with hypertension. Further, the results imply while alexithymia has cross cultural validity, its much touted implications for health may be specific to ethnic demographics versus universal in the manner its consequences manifest.

Keywords: Psychology, Health

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 7, Issue 1, March 2017, pp.49-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 740.643KB).

Prof. Denise Hatter-Fisher

Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, Otterbein University, Westerville, Ohio, USA

Prof. William Harper

Professor of Mathematics, Department of Mathematics, Otterbein University, Westerville, Ohio, USA