Perceived colorism and lifetime psychiatric disorders among Black American adults: findings from the National Survey of American Life

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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2021 May 7. doi: 10.1007/s00127-021-02102-z. Online ahead of print.


Colorism has been propagated across the globe, and skin tone discrimination may partly explain social stratification and health disparities within the Black American population. Using data from a large probability sample of Black American adults (National Survey of American Life; 2001-2003), we examined the relations between perceived colorism and psychiatric disorders. In multivariable logistic regression models, in-group colorism was associated with greater odds of having any lifetime psychiatric disorder (aOR: 1.20; 95% CI: 1.08-1.32; p = 0.00); however, out-group colorism was not significantly associated, net of sociodemographic characteristics and in-group colorism (aOR: 1.08; 95% CI: 0.99-1.18; p = 0.08). When looking at specific disorders, in-group colorism was significantly associated with greater odds of alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, anxiety disorder, and eating disorder, but was not associated with post-traumatic stress disorder or mood disorder. Out-group colorism was not significantly associated with any psychiatric disorder except anxiety disorder. Our findings show that colorism predicts psychiatric disorders, though more research is needed to understand why the effects of in-group and out-group colorism are related to certain psychiatric disorders but not others.

PMID:33961079 | DOI:10.1007/s00127-021-02102-z