A Physiological Approach to Examining the Role of Racial Coping on Mental Health Among Black Adolescents

PI: Rachel Davis

Supervising PI: Fantasy Lozada, Ph.D.

Funding: NIH NIMHD F31 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (NRSA) 1F31MD018934-01

The prevalence of racial stress among Black adolescents is alarming as it increases the likelihood of youth engaging in risky sexual behavior and substance abuse. To address the pervasive and ubiquitous public health concern of the presence of racial stress in the lives of Black adolescents and their subsequent adjustment, the overarching goal of this NRSA proposal is to utilize a multi-method approach to (1) understand the nature of racial coping among Black adolescents, (2) identify cultural parenting processes that predicts racial coping among Black adolescents, and (3) examine the attenuating effects of racial coping on the association between racial discrimination and mental health (i.e., symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress) among Black adolescents. Present understanding of racial coping among Black adolescents is limited due to (1) the lack of inclusion of physiological processes in racial coping measurement, (2) the use of variable-centered approaches in investigations of racial coping, and (3) the lack of inclusion of emotion socialization in parents’ racial coping socialization. Anticipated findings can ultimately inform the enhancement and tailoring of current and future racial coping and mental health interventions for Black adolescents. The current project leverages data from an existing longitudinal study on Black adolescents’ emotion regulation processes during middle school (grades 6-8) in Richmond, Virginia: Emotion Regulatory Flexibility among African American Adolescents Study (ERFAA; PI: Lozada, NSF CAREER Award: 2046607).