Racial discrimination and cortisol output: A meta-analysis

Kevin M. Korous, Jose Causadias, Deborah M. Casper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rationale Although the relation between stress and physiology is well documented, attempts at understanding the link between racial discrimination and cortisol output, specifically, have produced mixed results, likely due to study characteristics such as racial/ethnic composition of the samples (e.g., African American, Latino), measures of discrimination, and research design (e.g., cross-sectional, experimental). Objectives To estimate the overall association between racial discrimination and cortisol output among racial/ethnic minority individuals and to determine if the association between racial discrimination and cortisol output is moderated by age, race/ethnicity, type of discrimination measure, sex, and research design. Results Using a random effects model, the overall effect size based on k = 16 studies (19% unpublished) and N = 1506 participants was r¯ = 0.040, 95% CI = −0.038 to 0.117. Studies were conducted predominantly in the U.S. (81%). Notably, experimental studies (r¯ = 0.267) exhibited larger effect sizes compared to non-experimental studies (r¯ = −0.007). Age, race/ethnicity, type of discrimination measure, and sex did not moderate the effect sizes. Conclusion This meta-analysis provides evidence that the measurement of the association between racial discrimination and cortisol is complex, and it offers valuable insight regarding methods and designs that can inform future research on this topic. Limitations and future directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-100
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume193
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

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Keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Cultural neurobiology
  • Culture and biology interplay
  • Meta-analysis
  • Racial discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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