Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Racial health disparities exist in the United States, and exist in part due to negative effects of experiencing discrimination on health. Thus, the current work uses subjective and objective health outcomes to document the ill effects of discrimination on aspects of physical and mental health. In addition, as sense of purpose in life has been shown to have a positive impact on one’s health, the current work examines the effect of sense of purpose on the same health outcomes, and assesses the extent to which sense of purpose may help to mitigate some of the harmful effects of discrimination on health. Moreover, the current work examines the inter-generational impact of discrimination on children’s health, finding that while experiences of discrimination were positively associated across the generations, there was no evidence for an inter-generational impact of discrimination on health. Finally, the current work found mixed evidence for a relationship between discrimination and sense of purpose, suggesting a future need to identify nuances in this relationship and how this relationship may function at an individual level. This work thus aims to provide greater understanding of (a) the nature of racial health disparities, (b) the role of sense of purpose in life in predicting health outcomes, and (c) the relationship between purpose with discrimination, and in turn has provided a potential path to improve health disparities through sense of purpose in life.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Patrick Hill

Committee Members

Thomas Oltmanns, Michael Strube, Ryan Bogdan, Clara Wilkins,