PhD in Nursing Science Program

Rolanda Johnson

The Differences Within: The Relationships Between Racial Identity, Sociodemographic Factors, Health Beliefs, and Health-Promoting Behaviors in African Americans

 

Despite improvement with the Healthy People 2000 goals, there still exist disparities between life-expectancy rates for coronary disease, strokes, and cancer for blacks versus whites (McGinnis & Lee, 1995). Mortality and morbidity rates also remain disproportionately higher for African-Americans than Whites (Hale, 1992). In recent years, health promotion has been lauded as a way to increase health status, and levels of well-being (Pender, 1987). The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between racial identity, self-esteem, sociodemographic factors (income, education, gender), health beliefs (health value, current health status, definition of health), and health-promoting behaviors in African-Americans. The convenience sample of this exploratory descriptive study consisted of 224 African-Americans from the southeast that included 48% males, a mean age of 37.2 (SD =.85), with 37% (n = 82) reporting an education of 12th grade or less. Hierarchical regressions were run to test the hypotheses. Hypothesis I was that the relationships between racial identity and health beliefs and frequency of health-promoting behaviors are mediated by self-esteem. Self-esteem only mediated the relationship between internalization racial identity and wellness definition of health. Hypothesis II was that the relationships between racial identity and health beliefs and frequency of health-promoting behaviors are moderated by sociodemographic factors. These factors did moderate several of the proposed relationships. Racial identity while not a strong predictor had some impact on the health-promoting behaviors despite the sociodemographic profile. Racial identity may be a means of exploring the heterogeneity within the African-American population, but more exploration is needed.