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Background: Although it is recognized that African Americans experience racial discrimination, relatively little research has explored the health implications of this experience. Few studies have examined the relationship between racial discrimination and specific health risks.
Objectives: To examine the relationship between smoking habits and perceptions of racial discrimination among African American adolescent girls and to identify and test potential psychological mechanisms through which racial discrimination may operate to increase smoking among this group.
Methods: A sample of 105 African American adolescent girls (mean age 15.45 years) derived from a larger cross-sectional research project comprised the sample. Univariate analyses were conducted to provide descriptive data on the participants of the study, including information about their use of licit and illicit substances. Bivariate correlational analyses were conducted to evaluate the relationship between perceptions of discrimination and smoking habits. The ability of stress to mediate the relationship between discrimination and smoking was examined by using standard analytical procedures for testing mediation models as outlined by Baron and Kenny (1986).
Results: The sample (93%) reported experiencing discrimination and racial discrimination was highly correlated with cigarette smoking (r = .35, p > .001). Removing the effects of stress significantly reduced the relationship between racial discrimination and smoking (r = .17, p < .05), indicating that racial discrimination is related to smoking because of its stressful nature.
Conclusion: Perceptions of racial discrimination are related to the smoking habits of African American adolescent girls.
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