Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Racism and anxiety in a Black American sample: The role of mediators and a brief mindfulness manipulation
by Graham, Jessica R., Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Boston, 2013, 104; 3608211
Abstract (Summary)

It is important to determine factors that may exacerbate the negative effects of experiences of racism on anxiety, as well as factors that might buffer racism's negative impact on anxiety in Black American samples. To examine these factors, we conducted two related studies. In study 1, 119 Black American individuals completed the Schedule of Racist Events, the five factor mindfulness questionnaire, the anxiety control questionnaire (assessing perceptions of control), the self-hatred subscale of the cross racial identity scale, and the depression anxiety and stress Scale. As hypothesized, frequency of racist experiences over the past week was significantly positively associated with anxious arousal symptoms and frequency of experiences of racism over the past year was significantly positively associated with anxious arousal and general anxiety symptoms. Additionally, stress appraisal of racist experiences was significantly positively associated with anxious arousal and general anxiety symptoms. Unexpectedly, frequency of racist experiences over the past week were not significantly associated with general anxiety symptoms. As hypothesized, internalized racism mediated the relationship between past week experiences of racism and anxious arousal symptoms. Additionally, internalized racism mediated the relationship between frequency of past year experiences of racism and anxious arousal and general anxiety symptoms. Finally, internalized racism mediated the relationship between stress appraisal of racist experiences and anxious arousal and general anxiety anxiety symptoms. Contrary to hypotheses, perceptions of control (ACQ-R) did not mediate the relationship between racist experiences and anxious symptomology in this sample. Finally, as hypothesized, trait mindfulness moderated the relationship between past week frequency of racist experiences and anxious arousal only, in the present sample.

In a second experimental study, we explored the potential causal relationships between variables. Thirty Black American participants from Study 1 who endorsed that they had experienced racism in the past year, in addition to other inclusion criteria, participated in this study. Participants were randomly assigned to a mindfulness condition (N= 16) or control condition ( N= 14) and were presented with a racially evocative stimulus before and after the experimental manipulation. We examined the effects of the brief mindfulness manipulation on self-report measures of distress and state anxiety. ANCOVA analyses (controlling for distress and anxiety prior to the manipulation) revealed that condition assignment had no significant effect on overall subjective units of distress, F (1, 29) = .13, p = .73, ηp2 = .005, or overall state anxiety symptoms, F (1, 27) = .23, p = .64, ηp 2 = .009.

These results provide preliminary evidence suggesting that experiences of racism are associated with anxiety symptoms in Black American populations and that internalized racism may be a mechanism through which experiences of racism and anxiety are connected. Additionally, these results suggest that mindfulness may buffer the negative effects of racism on anxiety in Black American populations, however, further research is needed to investigate the causal relationships between racism, mindfulness, and anxiety in Black populations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Roemer, Lizabeth
Commitee: Donaldson, S. Tiffany, Hayes-Skelton, Sarah, Suyemoto, Karen L.
School: University of Massachusetts Boston
Department: Clinical Psychology (PhD)
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 75/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Anxiety, Black Americans, Discrimination, Mindfulness, Racism
Publication Number: 3608211
ISBN: 9781303661747
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