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Early-Career Investigator (KL2) Program scholar presents at national conference

Discrimination may affect the health and well-being of women of color according to research presented by Yendelela Cuffee, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, at the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s 40th annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C.

Cuffee is an Early-Career Investigator (KL2) Program scholar through Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She presented the poster “Examining Self-Reported Discrimination, Beliefs about Health Care, and Emotional Well-being among African-American Women.”

Cuffee’s project examined more than 550 African-American women living with hypertension in Birmingham, Ala., to see how self-reported experiences of race and gender-based discrimination are associated with emotional well-being and beliefs about health care. Those who reported discrimination experienced more negative mental health outcomes, specifically anxiety and depression. Meanwhile, individuals with no reported incidents of discrimination generally were happier, more trusting and healthier.

“Our findings suggest that women of color – who experienced discrimination in health care and beyond – are less trusting and that these factors might influence, not only how they access medical care, but also individuals’ relationships with health care providers,” Cuffee said.

The research was presented during the multidisciplinary behavioral medicine conference March 6 to 9. Cuffee’s co-authors include Portia Jackson Preston, an assistant professor at California State University in Los Angeles, and Jeroan Allison, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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