Date of Award

12-4-2008

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Russell Toal - Chair

Second Advisor

Dominique Musselman

Third Advisor

Ike Okosun

Abstract

Diabetes disproportionately affects minority populations. Social support, and more specifically marriage, has been found to buffer the negative effects of diabetes and depression. Data collected from African Americans with type 2 diabetes in Atlanta and NHANES data were compared to examine whether marriage affects health status and mental health. Approximately, 1742 African Americans aged 18-80 were included in this study. Chi square analysis revealed that married men had lower rates of depression (15.9% vs. 24.7%) compared to unmarried men (p < 0.05), but the same effect was not found in women. The findings show that marriage was not associated with HbA1c, but was associated with rates of depression. The lack of association of HbA1c with marriage may be because marriage may not be the best proxy of social support in the African American community. Future research should focus on alternative forms of social support such as cohabitation, extend family, and friend.

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