When Is Hope Enough? Hopefulness, Discrimination and Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Allostatic Load.

TitleWhen Is Hope Enough? Hopefulness, Discrimination and Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Allostatic Load.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMitchell, UA, Dellor, ED, Sharif, MZ, Brown, LL, Torres, JM, Nguyen, AW
JournalBehav Med
ISSN Number0896-4289
KeywordsAging, physiological dysregulation, psychosocial resources, Resilience, stress and coping

Hopefulness is associated with better health and may be integral for stress adaptation and resilience. Limited research has prospectively examined whether hopefulness protects against physiological dysregulation or does so similarly for U.S. whites, blacks and Hispanics. We examined the association between baseline hopefulness and future allostatic load using data from the Health and Retirement Study (n = 8,486) and assessed differences in this association by race/ethnicity and experiences of discrimination. Four items measured hopefulness and allostatic load was a count of seven biomarkers for which a respondent's measured value was considered high-risk for disease. A dichotomous variable assessed whether respondents experienced at least one major act of discrimination in their lifetime. We used Poisson regression to examine the association between hopefulness and allostatic load and included a multiplicative interaction term to test racial/ethnic differences in this association. Subsequent analyses were stratified by race/ethnicity and tested the interaction between hopefulness and discrimination within each racial/ethnic group. Hopefulness was associated with lower allostatic load scores, but its effects varied significantly by race/ethnicity. Race-stratified analyses suggested that hopefulness was protective among whites and not associated with allostatic load among Hispanics irrespective of experiencing discrimination. Hopefulness was associated with lower allostatic load among blacks reporting discrimination but associated with higher allostatic load among those who did not. Findings suggest that hopefulness plays differing roles for older whites, blacks and Hispanics and, for blacks, its protective effects on physiological dysregulation are intricately tied to their experiences of discrimination.

Citation Key10980
PubMed ID32787721