Date of Award

Fall 8-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Michael Madson

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Bonnie Nicholson

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 4

Dr. Donald Sacco

Committee Member 4 Department

Psychology

Abstract

Investigation of the effects of gender racism (i.e., discrimination based on race and gender) among African American college women is limited, which is concerning considering the impact this specific type of discrimination may have on mental health and coping behaviors among African American college women. African American students who have experienced racial discrimination and college women who have experienced sexual discrimination experience increased levels of psychological distress (i.e., symptoms of depression and anxiety). Further, harmful alcohol use is a common coping strategy for psychological distress among college students and has been linked to increased risky sexual behavior among African American college women. The present study explored the relationship between experiences of gendered racism, psychological distress, harmful alcohol use, and risky sexual behavior among African American college women at a mid-sized, Southern, and predominantly White institution. Additionally, the present study investigated factors associated with less harmful alcohol use and risky sexual behavior among AACW, specifically the moderating effects of alcohol protective behavioral strategies (PBS-A) and safe sex practices. Psychological distress and harmful alcohol use did not sequentially mediate the relationship between gendered racism and risky sexual behavior; however, symptoms of anxiety and harmful alcohol use uniquely mediated the relationship between gendered racism and risky sexual behavior. PBS-A and safe sex practices did not moderate the predicted sequential relationship. Clinical and research implications will be discussed.

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