OC Symptoms in African American Young Adults: The Associations Between Racial Discrimination, Racial Identity, and Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms

H. Willis and E. Neblett Jr.


Although studies illustrate the role of racial discrimination as a risk factor for increased psychiatric symptoms for African American young adults, none has explored the link between racial discrimination and obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms within such a sample. Racial identity has been shown to moderate the association between racial discrimination and psychiatric symptoms; yet, no studies have investigated its protective role in the context of OC symptoms. This study examined the association between racial discrimination and OC symptom distress over time, as well as how racial identity moderates this relationship. Participants were 171 African American young adults who completed measures of racial discrimination, racial identity, and OC symptom distress. Latent profile analysis revealed three patterns of racial identity: Multiculturalist, Race-Focused, and Humanist. Racial discrimination frequency at Time 1 was positively associated with OC symptom distress one year later for the Race-Focused racial identity group, but unrelated to OC symptom distress for the Multiculturalist and Humanist groups. Results support the notion that racial discrimination is a risk factor, and specific patterns of racial identity are vulnerability and protective factors, in the development and maintenance of OC symptoms. These findings have the potential to transform assessment and treatment of OC symptoms within African American samples.


Reference: Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders (2018)