Archives of General Internal Medicine

Research Paper - Archives of General Internal Medicine (2019) Volume 3, Issue 1

High Sense of Mastery Reduces Psychological Distress for African-American Women but not African-American Men

Recent research has suggested that relative to Whites, African Americans (AAs) may be at a systemic disadvantage regarding the health effects of socioeconomic position (SEP) indicators as well as psychological assets (e.g., sense of mastery). However, less is known about how these diminished returns differ between AA men and women. This study tested whether AA men and women differ in the mental health effects of high sense of mastery. The National Survey of American Life (NSAL, 2003) recruited 3570 AA adults who were either female (n = 2299) or male (n = 1271). Dependent variable was psychological distress. Independent variable was sense of mastery. Gender was the focal moderator. Age and educational attainment were the covariates. Multiple linear regression model was applied for statistical analysis. Overall, high sense of mastery was associated with lower psychological distress. Significant interaction was found between gender and sense of mastery on psychological distress suggestive of a stronger association for AA women compared to men. A smaller mental health gain of high sense of mastery for AA men compared to AA women is indicative of within race heterogeneity regarding diminished returns. Racism and discrimination may be why high sense of mastery does not translate to mental health gain for AA men.

Author(s): Shervin Assari

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