Disparities in Psychological and Physical Well-Being Between Black American and White American Older Adults

The consensus of the literature is that that Black Americans have worse physical health than White Americans, but have better mental health (Mezuk et al., 2010). This study utilized secondary data from the 2013-2014 California Health Interview Survey adult questionnaire to analyze psychological and physical well-being disparities between Black and White older American adults between the ages 65 to 85. Chi-square and t-tests were performed. Consistent with this study’s hypothesis, psychological distress results between the two ethnic groups did not differ significantly (t=0.364, df =13141, p = 0.716). Results also supported the second hypothesis that negative health habits such as poor diet would correlate with greater levels of psychological distress. Results were (r=.158; p=.000) for Black Americans, and (r=.091; p=.000) for White Americans. In line with the third hypothesis, participants in both ethnicity groups who reported an increase in psychological distress tended to rate their general health less favorably; supporting the conclusion that psychological distress and general health go hand in hand; one cannot be affected without impacting the other. Results were (r=.293; p=.000) for Black Americans and (r=.337; p=.000) for White Americans. A correct assessment of Black Americans mental health, if the current assessment is incorrect, would allow social workers and mental health professionals to fully address the actual issues and concerns of the Black American communities and to formulate strategies and programs to effectively deal with the circumstances actually faced by Black Americans.