Jessica Fernandez, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Jessica Fernandez

Postdoctoral Fellow

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Racial Discrimination and Chronic Disease: The Mediating Effects of Sensitivity to Daily Stress

Chronic disease contributes to 1.7 million U.S. deaths each year, yet there are vast racial/ethnic disparities in chronic

disease. Racial discrimination—differential treatment of stigmatized racial/ethnic groups—has been linked to these disparities through chronic stress and increased hypervigilance (heightened alertness to potential stressors in the environment). Despite evidence linking hypervigilance to increased sensitivity to anticipated discrimination, studies have yet to examine the association between racial discrimination and sensitivity to non-race-related daily stressors.

This study will examine whether sensitivity to daily stressors mediates the association between racial discrimination and chronic disease across racial/ethnic groups, whether coping strategies affect these relationships, and whether open-ended descriptions of coping strategies differ across racial/ethnic groups.

A group of 2000 U.S. adults—nationally representative in gender, age, education, and self-identified by racial/ethnic subgroups—will be recruited from Qualtrics Panels: 500 Black Americans, 500 Hispanic Americans, 500 Asian Americans, 500 White Americans. Participants’ sensitivity to daily stress will be captured using self-reported and behavioral responses to a series of scenarios describing daily stressors. Participants will also complete self-reported measures on racial discrimination, chronic disease, typical daily stress, and coping strategies. These experiences may differ across racial/ethnic groups and coping strategies could potentially mitigate the harmful effects of racial discrimination on daily stress and health.

Page updated December 8, 2021