Perceived racial discrimination and mental health in low-income, urban-dwelling whites

Kelly M. Bower, Roland J. Thorpe, Thomas A. LaVeist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This study examined the relationship between perceived racial discrimination and the presence of anxiety and depression in a sample of low-income, urban-dwelling whites. Data were analyzed from a cross-sectional survey of low-income whites living in an inner-city neighborhood in the mid-Atlantic United States. Perceived racial discrimination was reported by 39 percent of participants. Rates of depression in the population exceed prevalence rates in the general U.S. population. Those who perceived racial discrimination and were bothered by it experienced significantly greater odds of being depressed (OR = 2.78, 95% CI 1.60-4.82) and had higher anxiety scores (b = 2.02, SE 0.55, p = 0.000) than those who did not perceive racial discrimination. Low-income, urban white populations have been largely ignored in public health research. This study demonstrates that perceived racial discrimination is common in poor urban whites. Further, exposure to discrimination that is perceived as a stressor is associated with mental illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-280
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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