Marea Newell
Professor Peterson
Psychology

Examining the Relationship between Perceived Discrimination and Substance Use Among African American Young Adults

Research on stress and coping has demonstrated that stress is an important psychosocial factor that is predictive of substance use. African Americans experience disproportionate psychosocial stress due to interpersonal racial discrimination, which is implicated as a major contributor to racial health disparities. One of the ways individuals cope with stress is via substance use; therefore, it is important to research the relationship between racial discrimination and substance use among emerging adult African Americans. The current research will draw on the Health and Racial Discrimination in Daily Life (HRDDL1, Pittsburgh) study and the current HRDDL2 (Philadelphia) study, which examine perceived discrimination and substance use behaviors among African American emerging adults (18-30 years old). Participants complete questionnaires assessing discrimination, psychosocial constructs, as well as substance use behaviors and associated cognitions. Participants also report on these constructs using ecological momentary assessment, specifically, filling out brief questionnaires throughout the day via smartphones. My Summer Science Research project will involve recruitment, screening, and collecting data from participants. I plan to examine the relationship between perceived discrimination and substance use behaviors and associated cognitions.  I hypothesize that discrimination will be associated with greater substance use risk cognitions and behaviors among emerging adult African Americans. Additionally, I plan to conduct a review of the literature on potential mediators (e.g., negative affect) or potential buffers (e.g., social support) of the discrimination and substance use relationship. This study will use innovative methodologies to provide insight to how discrimination relates to engagement in substance use behaviors among the emerging adult African Americans.

Keywords: Discrimination; Substance Use; Health; Health Disparities