Health Psychol 2019 Nov 25;38(11):1010-1013. Epub 2019 Jul 25.
Department of Psychology, University of Georgia.
Objective: This study examined the role of depressive symptoms in mediating the relationship between early life experiences of racial discrimination and accelerated aging in adulthood for African Americans (i.e., prediction over a 19-year period, from ages 10 to 29) after adjusting for gender and health behaviors.
Method: Longitudinal self-report data over 7 waves of data collection from the Family and Community Health Study were utilized. The sample included 368 African Americans with usable gene expression data to compute accelerated aging, as well as complete data on all self-report variables including racial discrimination (Schedule of Racist Events) and depression (Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children-Version 4). Blood was collected by antecubital blood draws from participants at age 29. The proposed model was tested by path analysis.
Results: Findings revealed that high discrimination at ages 10-15 was associated with depression at ages 20-29 (β = .19, p = .001), controlling for depression at ages 10-15, which, in turn, was related to accelerated cellular-level aging (β = .11, p = .048) after controlling for gender, alcohol consumption, and cigarette use. The indirect effect of racial discrimination on aging through depression at ages 20-29 was significant (β = .021, 95% confidence interval [.001, .057]), accounting for 32.3% of the total variance.
Conclusion: These findings support research conceptualizations that early life stress due to racial discrimination lead to sustained negative affective states continuing into young adulthood that confer risk for accelerated aging and possibly premature disease and mortality in African Americans. These findings advance knowledge of potential underlying mechanisms that influence racial health disparities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).