Trajectories of racial and gender health disparities during later midlife: Connections to personality

Juliette McClendon, Joshua J. Jackson, Ryan Bogdan, Thomas F. Oltmanns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: We examined race/gender effects on initial levels and trajectories of self-reported physical and mental health, as well as the moderating role of personality. We hypothesized that health disparities would remain stable or decrease over time, and that at-risk personality traits (e.g., neuroticism) would have a more robust negative impact on health for Black participants. Method: Analyses utilized 6 waves of data from a community sample of 1,577 Black and White adults (mean age 60 years), assessed every 6 months for 2.5 years. Using multigroup latent growth curve modeling, we examined initial levels and changes in health among White men, White women, Black men, and Black women. Results: Black participants reported lower initial physical health than Whites. Women's physical health was stable over time, whereas men's declined. There were no disparities in mental health. Higher agreeableness was associated with higher initial levels of physical health only among Black men and White women. All other personality traits were associated with physical and mental health similarly across race and gender. Conclusions: Race and gender influence health trajectories. Most personality- health associations replicated across race and gender, except for agreeableness with physical health. An intersectional framework considering more than one aspect of social identity is crucial for understanding health disparities. Future studies may benefit from including large, diverse samples of participants and further examining the moderating effects of race and gender on personality associations with a variety of health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-370
Number of pages12
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Gender
  • Health disparities
  • Health trajectories
  • Personality
  • Race


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