Self-reported experiences of discrimination and inflammation among men and women: The multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis

Kiarri N. Kershaw, Tené T. Lewis, Ana V. Diez Roux, Nancy S. Jenny, Kiang Liu, Frank J. Penedo, Mercedes R. Carnethon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine associations of lifetime and everyday discrimination with inflammation independent of sociodemographic characteristics. Method: Cross-sectional associations of self-reported experiences of everyday discrimination and lifetime discrimination with interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were examined by gender in a multiethnic sample of 3,099 men and 3,468 women aged 45-84 years. Everyday discrimination, lifetime discrimination due to any attribution, and lifetime discrimination attributed to race/ethnicity were based on self-report, and IL-6 and CRP were assayed from blood samples. Results: Among women, higher levels of all 3 discrimination measures were significantly associated with higher IL-6 in models adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, recent infection, anti-inflammatory medication use, and hormone replacement therapy use. All associations were attenuated with adjustment for body mass index (BMI). For men, everyday discrimination was inversely associated with IL-6 in all adjusted models. Lifetime discrimination was not related to IL-6 among men. Discrimination was unassociated with CRP in all models for both men and women. Conclusions: The association between discrimination and inflammation varied by gender and marker of inflammation. These findings highlight the complex relationship between discrimination and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and point to areas in need of further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-350
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Discrimination
  • Gender
  • Inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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