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African-American women develop functional challenges earlier than others
Date:9/26/2011

African-American women develop functional health challenges earlier than their fellow seniors, researchers say

While examining self-reported data about the lives of 8,700 older people, a Case Western Reserve University sociologist identified an accelerated rate of reported physical limitations by African American women in their mid-50s and 60s.

The finding surfaced as researchers looked generally at how the intersection of gender and race/ethnicity affect health disparities among older African-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Whites.

David Warner, assistant professor of sociology at Case Western Reserve University, found that, in general, men of all racial/ethnic groups fared better than the women. And, those with education, economic means and higher net worth reported fewer physical health issues.

"But we could not find the reason why African-American women developed limitations faster than other gender and racial/ethnic groups," he said.

Warner and his co-investigator Tyson H. Brown from Vanderbilt University set out to approach health disparities in a new way by looking at gender and race/ethnicity concurrently in order to better understand health disparities.

Overall, the researchers found that gender and race/ethnicity jointly and simultaneously define access to resources that promote health and exposure to risks that undermine the health of individuals over time.

The researchers did find that life disadvantages, such as lower incomes and lack of access to health care surfacing in midlife tend to follow individuals throughout their lives and that women are particularly at risk for such disadvantages.

Social Science & Medicine reported their research findings in the article, "Understanding how race/ethnicity and gender define age-trajectories of disability: An intersectionality approach."

The investigators of the National Institutes of Health-funded study reached their c
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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