Study Examines Racial Differences in Depression Among Women in Rural and Urban Areas

University-Michigan-logoA study led by Addie Weaver, a researcher at the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan, finds that for women living in rural areas, non-Hispanic Whites have significantly higher rates of depression than African American women. The study found that White women were more likely than their Black counterparts to have experienced depression over the previous 12 months and also over the course of their lifetimes.

The research also found that rural White women were more likely to be depressed than White women in urban areas, whereas Black women in rural areas were less likely to be depressed than Black women in urban locales.

Dr. Weaver believes that rural women have more responsibilities for housework and childcare than their urban counterparts. But she says that Black women may have developed resources and coping strategies, such as social networks and religious participation, to help them relieve the stresses of rural life.

“Many of these coping resources are deeply entrenched within African-American culture in the rural South and may inform why rural residence is associated with lower rates of depression and mood disorders among African-American women,” Dr. Weaver said.

Dr. Weaver is a graduate of Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She holds a master of public administration degree from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a master of social work degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.

The study, “Urban vs. Rural Residence and the Prevalence of Depression and Mood Disorder Among African American Women and Non-Hispanic White Women,” was published on the website of JAMA Psychiatry. It may be accessed here.

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