‘Expressed racial identity’ refers to a person’s self-identification with a racial grouping that s/he will express to others when asked to fit into ‘official’ racial classifications presented by Census forms, survey researchers, insurance forms, and so forth[16, 21]. To measure expressed racial identity interviewees were asked: “Now I’d like to ask you about your racial background. How would you describe your racial background? For example, are you White, Asian, South Asian, Black, Southeast Asian, or Aboriginal, or perhaps something else I haven’t mentioned? Please feel free to provide more than one answer if you have several backgrounds.” Due to the small number of respondents who chose Aboriginal or Southeast Asian identity (Table1), the expressed racial identity variable was subsequently recoded as Asian, Black, South Asian, White, and Other for these analyses.
Interviewers asked fifteen questions pertaining to experiences of discrimination. The items were adapted from the Major Experiences of Discrimination scale and the Everyday Discrimination Scale created by Williams and colleagues and utilized by numerous others e.g.,[23–25]. The items are intended to measure major experiences of unfair treatment as well as chronic, routine experiences of unfair treatment in everyday life. The preamble to the questions went as follows: “Now let’s go in a different direction. The following questions we will ask are personal in nature and may make you feel uncomfortable. Your responses will be kept in the strictest of confidence. We are interested in your opinions about how other people have treated you. Can you tell me if any of the following has ever happened to you?” Respondents were asked seven questions pertaining to major experiences of unfair treatment: 1. “For unfair reasons, have you ever not been hired for a job?” 2. “Have you ever been unfairly denied a promotion at work?” 3.” Do you feel you have been unfairly fired or let go from a job?” 4. “Have you ever moved into a neighborhood where neighbors made life difficult for you or your family?” 5. “Have you ever received service from someone such as a plumber or car mechanic that was worse than what other people get?” 6. “Have you ever been unfairly denied a bank loan, a mortgage, or insurance?” 7. “Have you ever been unfairly questioned, searched, or threatened by the police?” An alpha of 0.516 indicates that these dichotomous items did not form an internally coherent scale. An index of major discriminatory experiences was created that distinguished between three or more, two, one and no major experiences.
Each time a respondent responded in the affirmative to a major discriminatory experience question they were then asked “What do you think was the main reason for this experience?” The following possible responses were read aloud by interviewers in random order: Your gender, your age, your ethnic or racial background, your height, your weight, your religion, your education, your income level, a physical disability, your sexual orientation, other. From this a measure of racial/ethnic major discriminatory experiences in particular was created that distinguished between two or more experiences, one experience and no experiences of discrimination attributed by respondents to their racial/ethnic identities.
Respondents were also asked: “In your day-to-day life, how often do the following things happen to you?” 1. “You are treated with less respect or courtesy than other people.” 2. “You receive poorer service than other people at restaurants or stores.” 3. “People act as if they think you are not smart.” 4. “People act as if they think you are dishonest.” 5. “People act as if they think they are better than you.” 6. “People act as if they are afraid of you.” 7. “You are called names or insulted by people.” and 8. “You are threatened or harassed by people.” Possible responses to these questions were: almost every day, at least once a week, a few times a month, a few times a year, and never. An index of self-reported everyday discrimination was created by summing the responses to these questions (0 = never, 1 = a few times a year, 2 = a few times a month, 3 = at least once a week and 4 = almost every day) into a variable ranging from 0 to 22 with a mean of 3.205 and a standard deviation of 3.595 (n = 1490). An alpha of 0.794 indicates that respondents who experienced one form of routine discrimination were relatively likely to have experienced others as well, perhaps indicative of a latent factor pertaining to susceptibility to routine forms of discrimination more generally. This variable was subsequently recoded into categorical form as shown in Table1.
Respondents were asked “What is the highest level of education you have completed?” with response categories that ranged from less than high school to a completed postgraduate degree. This variable was coded to distinguish between high school or less; community college, technical school or some university; bachelor’s degree at university; and postgraduate degree. To measure income, respondents were asked: “What is your best estimate of the total income of all household members – including yourself – in the year 2008, before taxes and deductions? Please be sure to include income from all sources.” A set of income ranges provided to respondents culminated in an upper category representing household incomes of $150,000 or higher (see Table1).
To measure psychosocial stress, respondents were asked “Thinking about the amount of stress in your life, would you say that most days are: not at all stressful? a bit stressful? quite stressful? extremely stressful?” The latter two categories were combined due to small cell sizes.
Finally, respondents were asked: “Now I’d like to ask you about certain health conditions you may have. Do you have high blood pressure or hypertension?” If yes, they were asked: “Was your high blood pressure diagnosed by a physician?” Three hundred and six (19.8%) respondents reported hypertension, in all but seven cases diagnosed as such by a physician.