African Americans; Community sample; Demographic and psychosocial correlates; Depression; Mental; Depressive symptoms; Racial differences; Symptoms; Whites


Community-Based Research | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Medicine and Health | Public Health | Race and Ethnicity


This study examined demographic and psychosocial correlates of elevated depressive symptoms among African-Americans and Whites from comparable socioeconomic and neighborhood backgrounds. 851 African-Americans and 597 Whites from adjacent census tracts were interviewed using previously validated indicators of depressive symptoms, social support, religious practices and various demographic characteristics. More Whites than African-Americans reported elevated depressive symptoms and the groups also differed on several demographic variables and psychosocial variables. Employment, marital status and age were salient demographic covariates for African Americans, while income was for Whites. For both groups, social support and church attendance were inversely associated with depressive symptoms. Prayer was positively associated with depressive symptoms. Future research should explore within racial/ethnic group variations in depressive symptoms. Insights also are needed into possible changes over time in the relationship between religious variables and depressive symptoms, and how social support limits depressive symptoms in diverse populations.