In Press: New Paper Discusses the Inconsistencies Found Across the Literature Regarding Mental Health Outcomes of African American Caregivers
Nursing Science Ph.D. student Shanae Rhodes has published a first-author paper entitled “Physical and Psychological Health of African American Women Caregivers: Unmasking the Paradox” in Issues in Mental Health Nursing.
“This specific paper discusses the inconsistencies found across the literature regarding the mental health outcomes of African American caregivers. Some of the previous studies have shown that African American caregivers have better mental health outcomes when compared to other racial groups, despite persisting health disparities and poorer physical health outcomes (also known as the paradox),” Rhodes said. “However, other culturally-focused studies have demonstrated similar or poorer mental health outcomes for this population.”
Rhodes explained that informal caregiving and caregiver burden among African Americans is expected to significantly increase. Additionally, research has shown that African Americans are less likely to seek mental health assistance.
“This manuscript is important because it sheds light on the need for additional studies to be conducted to more clearly understand how caregiver burden impacts the mental health of African American caregivers,” she said.
The prevalence of mental health issues is of great concern within our nation and impacts every ethnicity, gender, and age.
“Recent events (e.g. COVID-19 related disparities and social injustices) have further compounded mental health issues in certain ethnic/racial groups, including African American caregivers,” she said. “More studies are needed to understand the unique experiences of African American caregivers in order to provide culturally appropriate, mental health-promoting interventions.”
Shanae is currently working with Dr. Carole White and the Caring for the Caregiver team. Her mentors are Dr. Janna Lesser, Dr. Pamela Recto, and Dr. Kylie Meyer and this is her first publication.
“I was surprised and thrilled when I received the notification of my publication. It is an honor to be able to publish my first manuscript in such a respectable journal, and as a first author! I am truly grateful for the support of my mentors, family, and classmates. Without their guidance and encouragement, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish such an achievement.”
The next step in the study is to understand how psychological and social resources influence the relationship between caregiver stress and mental health outcomes for this population of women.
“I am currently in the process of conducting in-depth, qualitative interviews to explore the lived experiences of African American women who are caregivers. Themes that have emerged from the preliminary data include: “obligation to care,” “reliance on God for strength,” “duality of power,” “self-reflection and empathy,” “mother’s influence,” and “impact of slavery.”