Dr. Young's LabAn Explanatory Model of Racial Variations in Illness Behaviors
Liat Ayalon (Dissertation, 2002)
This study evaluated variations in illness behaviors in African Americans and Caucasian Americans. Racial variations in service use and symptom report were assessed and the mediating role of locus of control, stigma of mental illness, symptom attribution, and alexithymia was evaluated. The final sample consisted of 66 Caucasian American and 70 African American city college students in a large Midwestern city. Participants completed the SCL-90-R, a short questionnaire of service use and demographic information, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Symptom Interpretation Questionnaire, the Beliefs Towards Mental Illness Scale, and the Revised Multidimensional Health Locus of Control Scale. Relative to Caucasian Americans, African Americans significantly less frequently used psychological/ social services and significantly more frequently used religious services. Caucasian Americans reported significantly more symptoms of depression and anxiety than African Americans. Both reduced daydreaming and powerful others locus of control beliefs mediated racial variations in psychological/ social service use. Neutral symptom attribution and race predicted variations in religious service use. God locus of control beliefs mediated racial variations in psychological/social service use, religious service use, and the report of anxiety and depression. A cognitive- affective framework for the understanding of racial variations in illness behaviors is discussed.