African American women; need for cognitive closure; HIV-related conspiracy beliefs; medical mistrust; health disparities


Health Psychology | Psychology | Social Psychology


Despite advances regarding access to care and overall treatment, medical mistrust remains an important factor regarding clinical research participation as well as prevention/treatment-seeking behaviors among African American women. Such attitudes may be a result of psychosocial variables such as HIV-related conspiracy endorsement as well as a need for cognitive closure (NFCC) that reinforces their beliefs of interpersonal and institutional discrimination. To explore how well these psychosocial factors predict medical mistrust, thirty-five urban-residing African American women completed a demographics survey, the Medical Mistrust Index (MMI), a HIV-related conspiracy beliefs survey, and the Need for Closure Scale (NFCS). Results showed that the overall model of age, HIV-related conspiracy beliefs, and NFCC accounted for 25.9% of variance in medical mistrust among participants. This suggests that medical mistrust among African American women may stem from the need to have clinical and health-related expectations in-line with historical and personal experiences of prejudice and mistreatment in order to avoid similar situations. Future studies should examine this dynamic within a larger population to determine possible strategies for addressing factors concerning medical mistrust among African American women and subsequently reduce persistent health disparities such as HIV.