Ethnic Variation in the Association Between Objective and Subjective Health in Older Adults

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Family Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, California, USA

2 Department of Urban Public Health, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, California, USA

3 Marginalization-Related Diminished Returns (MDRs) Center, Los Angeles, California, USA

4 Department of Family Medicine, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA



Introduction: The African Americans’ health paradox can be defined as better subjective health held of African American individuals compared to White individuals, despite their higher objective and medical adversities such as chronic medical conditions (CMCs). This phenomenon depicts African Americans’ relative resilience (advantage). However, most of the existing literature on this topic is limited to studies comparing African Americans and Whites. There is little research, if any, on this phenomenon among other ethnic groups. To fill this gap in the literature, this study tests the African Americans’ health paradox with consideration of Latinos as the control group.
Methods: This cross-sectional study collected demographic data, socioeconomic status, CMCs, and subjective health of 734 African American and Latino older adults residing in south Los Angeles. Logistic regression was used for data analysis.
Results: 118 Latino and 616 African Americans entered our study. Overall, a higher number of CMCs was associated with lower subjective health, however, a statistically significant interaction between ethnicity and the number of CMCs suggested that this association is weaker for African Americans than Latinos, which is the African American health paradox.
Conclusion: African Americans with a higher number of CMCs report better subjective health compared to Latinos with the same number of CMCs. This finding is indicative of a relative advantage of African Americans compared to other ethnic groups.