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Household income and spiritual well-being but not body mass index as determinants of poor self-rated health among African American adolescents


  • Yolanda M. Powell-Young

    Corresponding author
    1. Dillard University, 2601 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70122
    2. The University of Iowa, 305 Nursing Building, Iowa City, IA 52242-1121
    • Dillard University, 2601 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70122
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    • Associate Professor, Dillard University; Visiting Assistant Professor, The University of Iowa.

  • The authors would like to thank the parents and youth for volunteering their participation. The development of this work was supported in part by grants from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (P20 MD00481701) and the National Institute for Nursing Research (T32 NR007110). Thanks to Dr. Cruz Valesco-Gonzalez for statistical support.


Very little is known about predictors of subjective health status among African American adolescents. This study was designed to determine whether selected anthropometric, psychological, lifestyle behavioral, and structural variables predicted poor self-rated general health in a cross-sectional nonclinical sample of 310 female African American adolescents, 14–18 years old. The odds of reporting poor self-rated health were 2–3 times greater for African American teens from lower socioeconomic households when compared to teens residing in higher socioeconomic households and for those reporting infrequent participation in activities that promote spiritual well-being compared to those who participate more frequently in activities that enhance spiritual health. Findings indicate that socioeconomic level and engagement in behaviors that enhance healthy spirituality appear to be the most salient predictors of self-rated health. In addition to biodiversity considerations that influence perceptions of health status, culturally focused interventions should integrate variables shown to influence self-rated health among African American teens. These inclusions may inform a more integrated understanding of health, health outcomes, and health disparities in this vulnerable population. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 35:219–230, 2012