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Race, Social and Environmental Conditions, and Health Behaviors in Men

Thorpe, Roland J. Jr PhD; Kennedy-Hendricks, Alene PhD; Griffith, Derek M. PhD; Bruce, Marino A. PhD; Coa, Kisha PhD; Bell, Caryn N. PhD; Young, Jessica PhD; Bowie, Janice V. PhD; LaVeist, Thomas A. PhD

doi: 10.1097/FCH.0000000000000078
Original Articles

Although understanding race differences in health behaviors among men is an important step in reducing disparities in leading causes of death in the United States, progress has been stifled when using national data because of the confounding of race, socioeconomic status, and residential segregation. The purpose of this study is to examine the nature of disparities in health behaviors among African American and white men in the Exploring Health Disparities in Integrated Communities Study-Southwest Baltimore, which was conducted in a racially integrated neighborhood of Baltimore to data from the 2003 National Health Interview Survey. After adjusting for age, marital status, insurance, income, educational attainment, poor or fair health, and obesity status, African American men in National Health Interview Survey had greater odds of being physically inactive (odds ratio [OR] = 1.48; 95% confidence interval [CI], 129-1.69), reduced odds of being a current smoker (OR = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.65-0.90), and reduced odds of being a current drinker (OR = 0.58; 95% CI, 0.50-0.67). In the Exploring Health Disparities in Integrated Communities Study-Southwest Baltimore sample, African American and white men had similar odds of being physically inactive (OR = 0.79; 95% CI, 0.50-1.24), being a current smoker (OR = 0.86; 95% CI, 0.60-1.23), or being a current drinker (OR = 1.34; 95% CI, 0.81-2.21). Because race disparities in these health behaviors were ameliorated in the sample where African American and white men were living under similar social, environmental, and socioeconomic status conditions, these findings suggest that social environment may be an important determinant of health behaviors among African American and white men. Public health interventions and health promotion strategies should consider the social environment when seeking to better understand men's health disparities.

Program for Men's Health Research, Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland (Drs Thorpe, Kennedy-Hendricks, Coa, Bell, Bowie, and LaVeist); Departments of Health, Behavior and Society (Drs Thorpe, Coa, Bell, and Bowie) and Health Policy and Management (Drs Kennedy-Hendricks, Young, and LaVeist), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland; Institute for Research on Men's Health (Dr Griffith) and Center for Medicine, Health and Society (Dr Griffith), Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee; Center for Health of Minority Males, The University of Mississippi Medical Center & Jackson State University, Jackson (Dr Bruce); and Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology, Jackson State University, Jackson, Mississippi (Dr Bruce).

Correspondence: Roland J. Thorpe Jr, PhD, Department of Health, Behavior, and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N. Broadway, Ste 708, Baltimore, MD 21205 (rthorpe@jhu.edu).

Research conducted by the first author was supported by a grant from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (P60MD000214) and a grant from Pfizer, Inc.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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