December 1, 2019

An Examination of the Relationship between Discrimination, Depression, and Hypertension in Native Hawaiians

Claire Townsend Ing, Mapuana Antonio, Hyeong Jun Ahn, Kevin Cassel, Adrienne Dillard, B. Puni Kekauoha, Joseph Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula

Asian American Journal of Psychology

Native Hawaiians bear a disproportionate burden of hypertension. Discrimination and depression are potential hypertension risk factors. Although the relationship between discrimination and depression is well established, how these factors affect hypertension risk in indigenous populations remains unknown. We examined the relationship between discrimination, depression, and hypertension in adult Native Hawaiians. We hypothesized that greater frequency of perceived discrimination and greater frequency of depressive symptoms would independently increase the likelihood of having hypertension.

Surveys were mailed to 540 adult Native Hawaiians residing on five Hawaiian Homesteads. The surveys measured: hypertension status, sociodemographic factors (age, gender, income, employment status), body mass index (BMI), physical activity frequency, smoking, Hawaiian cultural affiliation, American cultural affiliation, perceived discrimination, and depressive symptoms.

Respondents (n=171) were mostly female (71%), a mean age of 57yrs, and 54% reported having hypertension. The logistic regression model included perceived discrimination, depression, BMI, frequency of vigorous physical activity, and Hawaiian cultural affiliation, and sociodemographic variables. The model showed that Hawaiian cultural affiliation and discrimination were significantly related to hypertension status. Depression was not related to hypertension status. Interaction analysis found that for individuals with lower Hawaiian cultural affiliation, frequent perceived discrimination was significantly associated with lower odds of having hypertension.

The negative association between perceived discrimination and hypertension status was opposite from hypothesized. However, the interaction suggests this relationship holds only for less culturally affiliated individuals. These results underscore the varied nature of hypertension determinants and may have clinical implications for the treatment of hypertension in Native Hawaiians.

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