Carlos Mendes de Leon photo

Early and Mid-Life Social Determinants of Racial Disparities in Late Life Health

a MiCDA Research Project Description

Investigators: Carlos Mendes de Leon

Funding: National Institute on Aging, 2011-2014 (7 R01 AG 032247 04)

Despite general improvements in overall health among older adults in the US, racial disparities in late-life health continue to be large and pervasive. Racial differences in late-life health are likely to depend on social resources and conditions experienced earlier in life, but the exact mechanisms by which these factors produce these disparities remain poorly understood. The study proposes to investigate a series of individual-level and neighborhood-level social factors in relation to four biological outcomes, including blood pressure, glycemic control, inflammation, and subclinical cerebrovascular disease. The outcomes were selected because of their known relevance for racial disparities in health, and their importance to the prevention of disability and cognitive impairment in old age. An important strength of the study is that it will take advantage of the availability of detailed information on most social and biological factors of interest. This information is derived from an ongoing cohort study in a large population of older blacks and whites. Findings from this study are expected to provide a better understanding of the social and biological mechanisms that contribute to racial disparities in late-life health, creating a foundation for policies and strategies to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities between older blacks and whites.

Research Signature Theme:

Health and well-being in later life: Life Course Determinants

Country of Focus: USA