Physical disability and depression: Clarifying racial/ethnic contrasts

Robyn Lewis Brown, R. Jay Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objective: This study assesses racial/ethnic disparities in depressive symptoms among persons who are physically disabled and evaluates the extent to which variation in stress exposure, coping resources, and feelings of shame associated with disability account for observed differences. Method: Data are drawn from a Miami-Dade County study that oversampled persons with physical disabilities. The sample used in this study includes individuals of Cuban and other Hispanic heritage, African Americans, and non-Hispanic Whites who identify as physically disabled (N = 550). Results: Cubans and other Hispanics report higher levels of depressive symptoms. This elevation in risk is largely explained by variations in stress exposure, available coping resources, and shame. Findings also suggest that feelings of shame may condition the relationships between both stress exposure and coping resources and depressive symptomatology. Discussion: Findings demonstrate racial/ethnic differences in depressive symptoms among persons with physical disabilities and highlight the importance of stress exposure, coping resources, and shame for understanding these differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)977-1000
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • depression
  • disability
  • race/ethnicity
  • stress process theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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