The relationship between cumulative unfair treatment and intima media thickness and adventitial diameter: The moderating role of race in the study of women's health across the nation

Laurel M. Peterson, Karen A. Matthews, Carol A. Derby, Joyce T. Bromberger, Rebecca C. Thurston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Objective: Unfair treatment may have a detrimental effect on cardiovascular health. However, little research on chronic health outcomes uses cumulative measures of unfair treatment. We tested whether cumulative unfair treatment was associated with greater subclinical cardiovascular disease in a diverse sample of African-American, Caucasian, Chinese, and Hispanic women. We also examined whether this relationship varied by race. Method: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation is a longitudinal study of midlife women. Cumulative unfair treatment was calculated as the average of unfair treatment assessed over 10 years at 6 time points. Subclinical cardiovascular disease, specifically carotid intima media thickness and adventitial diameter, was assessed via carotid ultrasound conducted at study year 12 in 1,056 women. We tested whether cumulative unfair treatment was related to subclinical cardiovascular disease via linear regression, controlling for demographic factors including socioeconomic status and cardiovascular risk factors. Results: The relation between unfair treatment and subclinical cardiovascular disease significantly varied by race (ps < .05), with unfair treatment related to higher intima media thickness (B = .03, SE = .01, p = .009) and adventitial diameter (B = .02, SE = .009, p = .013) only among Caucasian women. No significant relations between unfair treatment and subclinical cardiovascular disease outcomes were observed for African-American, Hispanic, and Chinese women. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that cumulative unfair treatment is related to worse subclinical cardiovascular disease among Caucasian women. These findings add to the growing literature showing that Caucasian women's experience of unfair treatment may have detrimental health implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-321
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016



  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Discrimination
  • Intima media thickness
  • Race
  • Unfair treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this