PhD Candiate Patricia Louie and Professor Blair Wheaton on “The Black-White Paradox” in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour

Blair WheatonPh.D. Candidate Patricia Louie and Professor Blair Wheaton  published an article in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, entitled “The Black-White Paradox Revisited: Understanding the Role of Counterbalancing Mechanisms.” The article explores the enduring paradox that black adolescents report similar or better mental health than whites in mental health literature despite social and economic disadvantage that would lead us to expect otherwise. Patricia Louie’s research investigates racial disparities in mental and physical health. She is interested in how societal conditions produce racial inequities in population health. She currently holds a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship for her comparative research on race, discrimination, and mental/physical health.

Professor Blair Wheaton is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, and specializes in the areas of quantitative methods and the sociology of mental health. His current research examines the role of neighbourhood effects on mental health outcomes.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available here.

Louie, Patricia and Blair Wheaton. “The Black-White Paradox Revisited: Understanding the Role of Counterbalancing Mechanisms.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 60(2): 169-187.

The tendency for blacks to report similar or better mental health than whites has served as an enduring paradox in the mental health literature for the past three decades. However, a debate persists about the mechanisms that underlie this paradox. Drawing on the stress process framework, we consider the counterbalancing roles of self-esteem and traumatic stress exposure in understanding the “black-white paradox” among U.S. adolescents. Using nationally representative data, we observe that blacks have higher levels of self-esteem than whites but also encounter higher levels of traumatic stress exposure. Adjusting for self-esteem reveals a net higher rate of mood disorders and distress among blacks relative to whites, and differences in traumatic stress exposure mediate this association. In the full model, we show that self-esteem and stress exposure offset each other, resulting in a null association between race and mood disorders and a reduced association between race and distress.