Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Carrie Oser

Second Advisor

Dr. Robyn Brown


In recent years, there has been a growing concern about not only the deleterious health effects of direct experiences of racism, but also how individuals are affected by others’ experiences of racism. It has been firmly established that direct exposure to discrimination can negatively impact the mental health of Black Americans and other minorities. But there is a dearth of empirical evidence that may answer the question of how indirect experiences of racism affects health. The purpose of this study is threefold: 1) to examine the social distribution of personal and vicarious experiences of discrimination among Black adults, 2) to understand the extent to which indirect experiences of discrimination are associated with psychological distress relative direct experiences of discrimination among Black adults, and 3) to determine what psychosocial factors may moderate the relationship between vicarious discrimination and mental health outcomes among Black adults.

Using data from the Nashville Stress and Health Study (N=1252), multivariate regression analyses were employed to study the social distribution of vicarious discrimination among a subsample of Black adults (n = 627). Additionally, multivariate regression analyses were used to examine the relationship between vicarious discrimination, and the moderators of this relationship. The subsamples were stratified by gender to assess the most salient within-group differences. Socioeconomic position, gender, and living in a predominantly white neighborhood were among the factors that significantly influenced the respondents’ reports of vicarious discrimination. Results from the analyses revealed that vicarious experiences of discrimination may have significant mental health implications for Black Americans. Findings from this study underscore the importance of considering the toll of the larger, more comprehensive race-related stress experience that Black Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities may endure.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

National Institute of Aging Grant R01AG034067 2011-2014