Date of Award

Fall 11-28-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Shanta Dube

Second Advisor

Dr. Ike Okosun


INTRODUCTION: Depression in the United States is a persistent but relatively understudied public health issue, especially among particularly burdened populations that suffer from comorbidities and additional conditions that may trigger or exacerbate the presence of depressive symptoms. Stress is a leading causes of many health defects and many recent theories concerning health disparities center around the differences in stress between different subpopulations contribute to health. Perceived discrimination is a unique stressor that has been linked to the observed wellness gap between races. Discrimination in the United States is often targeted towards African Americans and the effect that this unique stressor has on mental health illnesses such as depression is relatively unknown.

AIM: The goal of this study is to explore the effects of perceived discrimination on the presence and severity of depressive symptoms among African Americans in the state of Georgia using the Behavioral Risk Favors Surveillance Survey administered by the Center for Disease Control

METHODS: The sample of participants consisted of 609 African American residents of Georgia, all whom are at least 18 years of age. Each participant completed a telephone survey where they were inquired about both their experiences with perceived discrimination and questions from the PHQ-8 days which gauged their level of depressive symptoms. A bivariate analysis was utilized between reported discrimination in the workplace and depressive symptoms, then a similar analysis was conducted using discrimination while seeking healthcare. An adjusted model for the risk of depressive symptoms was then created at a 95% statistical significance level. All statistical methods were conducted using SAS 9.4.

RESULTS: Depressive symptoms were most prevalent among those in the 25-34 age group (20.8%; 12.2 – 29.4), those who graduated college or technical school (19.1%; 12.7 – 25.4), and those who reported some form of chronic disease (19.2%; 12.1 – 26.4). The odds ratio of perceived discrimination and depressive symptoms were lowest among those who reported being treated better than other races at work (0.123; CI: 0.038 to 0.407). Odds of depressive symptoms among those who reported being treated better than other races when seeing healthcare were insignificant.

DISCUSSION: The results of this study demonstrate that African Americans in Georgia who reported equal or better racial based treatment in the workplace had lower odds of reporting depressive symptoms