Thinking against the Grain: An Intersectional Examination of Health among Adults with Minoritized Identities in the United States

Date

2020

Authors

Hernandez, Stephanie Michelle

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Abstract

In the United States in 2017, 39% of the population identified as racial or ethnic minorities and about 4% of the population identified as sexual minorities. Although racial/ethnic and sexual minorities have been studied extensively, few studies have quantitatively examined how minoritization based on racial/ethnic and sexual identity intersects to influence health. Using an intersectional lens, this dissertation examined the relationship between minoritization and health in the United States. To address this aim, first, the process of minoritization was operationalized as minoritized identity. Minoritized identity was used to identify adults who may have been placed at risk for poorer health due to the process of minoritization. Second, the relationship between minoritized identity and health was assessed using nationally representative data from the 2013 through 2017 waves of the National Health Interview Survey. The main findings suggest heterosexual Black and Hispanic adults were more likely to report poor physical health and less likely to report poor mental health, non-heterosexual white adults were more likely to report poor mental health, and non-heterosexual Black and Hispanic adults were more likely to report poor physical health and poor mental health compared to heterosexual white adults. While unhealthy behaviors and other covariates helped explain some of the association between minoritized identity and health, the differences across categories of minoritized identity did not disappear. The major takeaway from this dissertation research is that the relationship between minoritization and health is complex and does not present a one size fits all approach to health equity.

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Keywords

health disparities, mental health, minoritization, NHIS, physical health

Citation

Department

Demography