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Are Black Older Adults Health-Pessimistic?

Kenneth F. Ferraro
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 201-214
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137202
Page Count: 14
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Are Black Older Adults Health-Pessimistic?
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Abstract

African Americans generally have more health problems than Whites, as manifested on most indicators of morbidity and mortality. The question pursued in this research is whether the more extensive health problems of minority older adults lead to a more pessimistic outlook on health. Previous research suggests that Black older adults who may be more pessimistic in their health orientations are thereby deterred from expecting health improvements from medical interventions. Using data from the Supplement on Aging to the Health Interview Survey conducted in 1984, a structural model is developed to examine the influence of functional morbidity and race on health promotion efforts and health assessments. Analysis of data from 3,237 respondents indicates that Black older adults report significantly more functional morbidity and more negative health assessments that White older adults. No direct racial differences were observed on health promotion efforts, but total effects show that Black persons are less likely to report promoting their health. When considering the four categories defined by race and sex, older Black women report the highest levels of functional morbidity and the most negative assessments of health.

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