Physical-Psychiatric Comorbidity: Patterns and Explanations for Racial and Ethnic Group Differences

Christy Erving, University of Wisconsin-Madison

An extensive literature documents racial, ethnic, and nativity differentials in physical and mental health. However, very few studies examine the co-occurrence of physical and mental illness within the same individual (i.e., physical-psychiatric comorbidity), and the patterning of comorbidity across racial and ethnic groups. As such, the current study asks the following questions: What are the patterns of physical-psychiatric comorbidity across racial and ethnic groups? To what extent do socioeconomic status, stress exposure, and social support explain racial and ethnic differentials in comorbidity? Results reveal that Puerto Rican men have significantly higher rates of physical-psychiatric comorbidity in comparison to White men. The social mechanisms examined here explain the Puerto Rican-White difference in comorbid health among men. For women, the social mechanisms did not explain racial and ethnic patterns of comorbidity.

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 Presented in Session P5. Adult Health and Mortality