Zhiyong Lin, of the The Texas Center on Aging and Population Sciences (CAPS) and Hui Liu (MSU) finds Racial-Ethnic Differences in COVID-19 Concerns among Older Americans: Evidence from the HRS, in a paper in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B.
Dr. Lin is a social demographer and medical sociologist studying family dynamics and health inequalities over the life course. One line of his research consists of social determinants of well-being, mostly among older adults. The other strand of his research investigates the changing patterns of intimate relationships in non-Western social contexts undergoing dramatic social transitions.
Zhiyong Lin, Hui Liu, A National Study of Racial-Ethnic Differences in COVID-19 Concerns among Older Americans: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2021;, gbab171, https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbab171
Concerns about COVID-19 is an important emotional reaction to the pandemic and represents a key pandemic-related mental health outcome. We provide the first population-based evidence of racial-ethnic differences in COVID-19 concerns among older Americans during the COVID-19 outbreak.
We analyzed data from the 2020 Health and Retirement Study COVID-19 project. The sample included 2,879 respondents (aged 50 and older) who were interviewed from June to September 2020 and had completed measures on COVID-19 concerns and other key covariates. Ordinary least squares regression models were estimated to assess racial-ethnic differences in COVID-19 concerns. Formal mediation analysis was conducted to test potential mediating roles of exposures to COVID-19 risks, preexisting health status, and socioeconomic resources in accounting for racial-ethnic differences in COVID-19 concerns.
Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic Americans showed significantly greater concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic than non-Hispanic White Americans. Racial-ethnic minority older adults also had higher proportions of knowing someone who had contracted or died from COVID-19 than White older adults. Unequal exposures to COVID-19 risks by race-ethnicity and, to a lesser degree, preexisting health inequalities accounted for only part of the racial-ethnic differences in COVID-19 concerns.
Our findings call for more research and policy interventions to lessen the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 experienced by older adults of racial-ethnic minority groups.