Hopelessness among Middle-aged and Older Blacks: The Negative Impact of Discrimination and Protecting Power of Social and Religious Resources

TitleHopelessness among Middle-aged and Older Blacks: The Negative Impact of Discrimination and Protecting Power of Social and Religious Resources
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMitchell, UA, Gutierrez-Kapheim, M, Nguyen, AW, Al-Amin, N
JournalInnovation in Aging
ISBN Number2399-5300
KeywordsAfrican American, Mental Health, Minority Issues, race, Religion and spirituality, Social networks, Social Support, Stress & Coping

Hopelessness—a state of despair characterized by a negative outlook towards the future and a belief in insurmountable challenges—is a risk factor for major depression, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality among older adults. It is also an understudied consequence of discrimination. Older Blacks disproportionately report experiencing discrimination and, as a result, may be at greater risk of feeling hopeless. However, social and religious resources may protect against the adverse effects of discrimination. The current study examines whether social support, social engagement, religious attendance, and religiosity buffer the effects of self-reported everyday discrimination on hopelessness among a nationally representative sample of Blacks.Using data from the 2010/2012 psychosocial assessment of the Health and Retirement Study, we regressed hopelessness on everyday discrimination, stratifying by two age groups, ages 51-64, representing middle-age (n=1,302) and age 65 and older, representing old age (n=887). Interaction terms tested whether each resource moderated the discrimination-hopelessness relationship controlling for depressive symptoms, socioeconomic status, and demographic characteristics.Greater reports of everyday discrimination were associated with higher levels of hopelessness for middle-aged and older Blacks. For middle-aged Blacks, the resources did not moderate the discrimination-hopelessness relationship; rather higher levels of support (b=-.294, p<0.01), religiosity (b=-.297, p<0.001), religious attendance (b=-.218, p<0.05) were independently and inversely associated with hopelessness. For older Blacks, higher levels of religiosity moderated the discrimination-hopelessness relationship (b=-.208, p<0.05) and higher levels of support (b=-.304, p<0.05) and social engagement (b=-.236, p<0.05) were independently and inversely associated with hopelessness.Findings suggest that self-reported everyday discrimination increases hopelessness among middle-aged and older Blacks but social and religious resources may counterbalance its effects, in age-specific ways, to protect against hopelessness. Religiosity may be especially important for older Blacks as a buffer against the negative consequences of discrimination on hopelessness.

Citation Key11060
PubMed ID33241123
PubMed Central IDPMC7679998