Center on Race and Social Problems

Investigating the Impact of African Americans’ Experiences of Racial Discrimination on Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Health Risk Behaviors using Ecological Momentary Assessment

Principal Investigator(s): 
August 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014

Investigators, Award Year: Laurel Peterson and Nataria Joseph, 2013-14

The overall purpose of this study is to examine the association between discrimination and health in African American young adults using innovative methodology. We have made significant progress on the research. Since the fall of 2013, we obtained IRB approval for the study, prepared all research protocols (e.g., questionnaires, handheld devices for data collection, study ambulatory equipment, WePay training and certification), and launched the study. We trained and oversaw a team of 6 University of Pittsburgh undergraduate research assistants (Katherine Willie, Jhanelle DeLisser, Brianna Crayton, Levi Markel, Mallory Hudson, and Rachael Schaper) to assist in data collection throughout the academic year and summer of 2014.


We successfully collected data from a total of 60 young adult African American participants in the Pittsburgh community. Dr. Joseph and Dr. Peterson both successfully advanced from their Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Postdoc (UPMC, mentors: Thomas Kamarck, Ph.D., Karen Matthews, PhD, and Rebecca Thurston, Ph.D.). Dr. Joseph is currently an assistant professor of health psychology at Pepperdine University and Dr. Peterson is currently an assistant professor of health psychology at Bryn Mawr College.
Drs. Joseph and Peterson analyzed the data and found preliminary results linking higher reports of daily racial pride with healthier ambulatory blood pressure levels, and have submitted these findings EMA-Assessed Momentary Positive Racial Identification and Ambulatory Blood Pressure in African American Young Adults to present at the 2017 meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.
Under the supervision of Dr. Peterson, seven students at Bryn Mawr College have conducted or are conducting independent senior theses with the data. Yige Zhu’s work is titled: The Association between Racial Discrimination and Obesity in Young Adult African American Adults: Findings from the HRDDL Study. Alexis De La Rosa’s project is titled: Health Impacts of Perceived Racism on Young Adult African Americans: Is Education a Buffer? Caitlin Homstad’s work is titled: Associations of Discrimination and HIV Transmission Risk Behaviors among African Americans.
Clara Kaufmann was a summer science fellow on the project and presented her work as a poster presentation at the LaSalle University Diversity Forum. Her project is entitled: Perceived Discrimination and Blood Pressure in African American Young Adults: Exploring the Influence of Social Support. Additionally, Maeve Malloy, Janet Monroe, and Marea Newell are currently conducting pilot research studies with these data.


The citation for the poster is:

Kaufmann, C. S., Peterson, L.M., & Tennillee Joseph, N. (2015, October). Perceived discrimination and blood pressure in African American young adults: Exploring the influence of social support. Poster session presented at the Fifth Diversity Forum, La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA.  






View Dr. Peterson's faculty page here






View Dr. Joseph's faculty page here