Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Daniel Russell


Researchers have studied the potential negative association between racism and health extensively. Possible mechanisms of this link have been examined, but no definite answers exist. Based on Ryff's conceptualization of psychological well-being, this study examined whether psychological well-being mediated the relationship between perceived racism and subsequent development of psychological distress. The unique role of each dimension of psychological well-being was also examined. Further, the hypothesis that racism-related social support would buffer the effect of perceived racism on psychological well-being was also tested. Data were from the Wave 4 and Wave 5 assessments of 659 African American women (with an average age of 44.94) who participated in the Family and Community Health Study. Analyses were conducted using latent variable structural equation modeling methods. Age, educational level, and marital status were control variables in this study.

Results indicated that there was a significant indirect effect from perceived racism to subsequent change of psychological distress via psychological well-being. Perceived racism uniquely predicted environmental mastery (negatively) and personal growth (positively) but did not uniquely predict other dimensions of psychological well-being. None of the psychological well-being dimensions uniquely predicted subsequent development of psychological distress. This study found a direct but not a buffering effect of racism-related social support. Findings from this study contribute to both theoretical conceptualizations of psychological well-being as well as practice related to African American women's mental health.


Copyright Owner

Jiong Yang



File Format


File Size

87 pages