When Is Hope Enough? Hopefulness, Discrimination, and Racial Disparities in Biological Risk

Uchechi Mitchell , University of Illinois at Chicago

Although a growing body of research has documented biopsychosocial pathways that influence health, few have examined the protective effects of hopefulness on biological risk. Even more scarce is research evaluating race differences in this relationship. This study examined race differences in the association between baseline hopefulness and future biological risk. The data come from 7,207 respondents who participated in the 2006/2008 and 2010/2012 psychosocial assessment of the Health and Retirement study. Linear regression models were used to determine whether levels of hopefulness in 2006/2008 was associated with biological risk in 2010/2012 and interactions tested for race differences. In the total population hopefulness was associated with lower biological risk four years later, but its effects differed by race/ethnicity. Although protective for whites, hopefulness was not associated with biological risk among Hispanics and was harmful for older blacks; that is, being hopeful was associated with higher biological risk four years later.

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 Presented in Session 52. Flash Session: Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and¬†Health¬†