TitleIntersectional Discrimination and Change in Blood Pressure Control among Older Adults: The Health and Retirement Study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsSims, KD, Smit, E, Batty, GDavid, Hystad, P, Odden, MC
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series A
Date Published08/2021


Associations between multiple forms of discrimination and blood pressure control in older populations remain unestablished.


Participants were 14582 non-institutionalized individuals (59% women) in the Health and Retirement Study aged at least 51 years (76% Non-Hispanic White, 15% Non-Hispanic Black, 9% Hispanic/Latino). Primary exposures included the mean frequency of discrimination in everyday life, intersectional discrimination (defined as marginalization ascribed to more than one reason), and the sum of discrimination over the lifespan. We assessed whether discrimination was associated with change in measured hypertension status (N=14582) and concurrent medication use among reported hypertensives (N=9086) over four years (2008-2014).


There was no association between the frequency of everyday discrimination and change in measured hypertension. Lifetime discrimination was associated with higher odds of hypertension four years later among men (OR: 1.21, 95% CI: 1.08, 1.36) but not women (OR: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.86, 1.13). Only among men, everyday discrimination due at least two reasons was associated with a 1.44 (95% CI: 1.03, 2.01)-fold odds of hypertension than reporting no everyday discrimination; reporting intersectional discrimination was not associated with developing hypertension among women (OR: 0.91, 95% CI: 0.70, 1.20). All three discriminatory measures were inversely related to time-averaged antihypertensive medication use, without apparent gender differences (e.g., OR for everyday discrimination-antihypertensive use associations: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.77, 0.94)).


Gender differences in marginalization may more acutely elevate hypertensive risk among older men than similarly aged women. Experiences of discrimination appear to decrease the likelihood of antihypertensive medication use among older adults overall.