Differences in Anxiety Sensitivity Among Black and White Veterans

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Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities


Black Americans are at greater risk for more severe and enduring consequences of anxiety disorders than White Americans, highlighting the need to identify malleable risk and maintenance factors. The current study aimed to examine racial differences in anxiety sensitivity and anxiety sensitivity facets between Black and White veterans (N = 285; 58% Black, 77% Male; Mage = 43.51, SD = 11.87) presenting to a PTSD specialty clinic at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. In addition to a diagnostic interview, veterans were asked to complete a brief battery of self-report questionnaires to assist with diagnostic clarification and treatment planning. Results revealed a significant difference in anxiety sensitivity total scores between Black (M = 44.5, SD = 17.2) and White veterans (M = 36.1, SD = 17.7), such that Black veterans evinced higher levels. When examining anxiety sensitivity subfacets, Black veterans also evinced elevated levels of physical (M = 14.4, SD = 6.6) and cognitive concerns (M = 15.2, SD = 6.5) compared to White veterans (M = 9.8, SD = 6.2; M = 11.7, SD = 6.6, respectively). Results indicate that anxiety sensitivity is a relevant risk factor among Black veterans. Future studies should examine the extent to which anxiety sensitivity is modifiable in such populations.

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