Int J Epidemiol Res. 2020;7(1): 25-34.
doi: 10.34172/ijer.2020.05
PMID: 32395609
PMCID: PMC7213594
  Abstract View: 223
  PDF Download: 194

Original Article

Investigation of the Predictors of Self-rated Health of Economically Disadvantaged African American Men and Women: Evidence for Sponge Hypothesis

Sharon Cobb 1* ORCID logo, Shervin Assari 2* ORCID logo

1 School of Nursing, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, USA
2 Department of Family Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, USA
*Corresponding Authors: Email: ; *Corresponding Author: Shervin Assari MD MPH, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, USA , Email: , Email: assari@umich.edu


Background and aims: According to the sponge hypothesis, compared to men’s self-rated health (SRH), women’s SRH is more likely to reflect conditions other than chronic medical conditions (CMCs) such as psychiatric disorders (PDs). As a result, poor SRH is a weaker predictive factor for mortality risk for women than men. Most of this literature, however, is done in samples that are predominantly middleclass White. To test the sponge hypothesis among economically disadvantaged African Americans (AAs), this study compared low-income AA men and women for the effects of the number of PDs and CMCs on SRH.

Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study recruited a non-random sample (n=150) of economically disadvantaged AA adults with PD(s). Structured face-to-face interviews were used to collect data. SRH was measured using a single-item measure. PDs and CMCs were also self-reported. We applied linear regression models to test the interactions between SRH and the number of PDs and CMC as well as gender.

Results: The number of PDs and CMCs were associated with SRH in the pooled sample of low-income AA adults with PD(s). However, we found a significant interaction between the number of PDs and gender. This interaction suggested a stronger association between PDs and SRH for AA women than AA men. Gender did not alter the association between the number of CMCs and SRH.

Conclusion: The number of PDs is a determinant of SRH for low-income AA women but not AA men, supporting the sponge hypothesis.

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Submitted: 20 Jan 2020
Accepted: 25 Feb 2020
ePublished: 26 Mar 2020
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