Current Research

The Health and Racial Discrimination in Daily Life (HRDDL) Project Series

HRDDL is a series of research projects focused on how racial discrimination impacts the health of young adult African Americans. Dr. Laurel Peterson and Dr. Nataria Joseph spearheaded the first project in Pittsburgh, PA (HRDDL-1), funded by The Center on Race and Social Problems through the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work. The extension study (HRDDL-2) is being conducted out of Dr. Peterson’s lab at Bryn Mawr College in the greater Philadelphia, PA area. Our sister lab at Pepperdine University launched HRDDL-3 based out of Los Angeles, CA. The projects are designed to explore how the social experience of racial identity (measured via baseline questionnaire and during day-to-day life) associate with health-related outcomes (i.e., ambulatory blood pressure, cortisol, sleep, and health cognitions and behaviors).


Health and Racial Discrimination in Daily Life – 1, Pittsburgh, PA sample

Jhanelle modeling the EMA-device and ambulatory cuff.

The overall purpose of this study is to examine the association between racial identity and health in African American young adults using innovative methodology. Since the fall of 2013, we obtained ethical approval for the study, prepared all research protocols (e.g., questionnaires, handheld devices for data collection, study ambulatory equipment), and launched the study. We trained and oversaw a team of 6 University of Pittsburgh undergraduate research assistants (Katherine Willie, Jhanelle DeLisser, Brianna Crayton, Levi Markel, Mallory Hudson, and Rachael Schaper) to assist in data collection throughout the 2013-14 academic year and summer of 2014. We successfully collected data from a total of 60 young adult African American participants in the Pittsburgh community who reported on their daily life experience, health cognitions and behaviors, and wore ambulatory blood pressure monitors that captured blood pressure data over a 48-hour period. To learn more about this project see the Center on Race and Social Problems 2012-13 Report.


Under the supervision of Dr. Peterson, seven students at Bryn Mawr College have conducted or are conducting independent senior theses with the data. Yige Zhu’s work is titled: The Association between Racial Discrimination and Obesity in Young Adult African American Adults: Findings from the HRDDL Study. Alexis De La Rosa’s project is titled: Health Impacts of Perceived Racism on Young Adult African Americans: Is Education a Buffer? Caitlin Homstad’s work is titled: Associations of Discrimination and HIV Transmission Risk Behaviors among African Americans. Clara Kaufmann was a summer science fellow on the project and presented her work as a poster presentation at the LaSalle University Diversity Forum. Her project is titled: Perceived Discrimination and Blood Pressure in African American Young Adults: Exploring the Influence of Social Support. Janet Monroe, Marea Newell, Maeve Malloy, Lila Glantzman-Leib, and Zoe Laky also conducted senior theses with these data.

Health and Racial Discrimination in Daily Life – 2, Philadelphia, PA sample

Nana models the salivary cortisol procedure.

Health and Racial Discrimination in Daily Life-2 is an extension study run out of Dr. Peterson’s lab at Bryn Mawr College. This study seeks to explore the association between social aspects of racial identity and health-related outcomes of young adult African Americans. In particular, this phase of the study includes the collection of ecological salivary cortisol over a 4-day period in conjunction with fingernail cortisol. In total, 14 undergraduate students (Yige Zhu, Alexis De La Rosa, Blair Broad, Meriel Campbell, Marta Chmielowicz, Caitlin Homstad, Clara Kaufmann, Dur-e-Nayab Akram, Maeve Malloy, Rodney Jones, Marea Newell, Janet Monroe, Deanna Zaro and Jennifer Orr) have served as research assistants on the project contributing to everything from study conceptualization, to protocol design, to participant recruitment, screening, and leading participants through the study. Data collection concluded in the Summer of 2017. Lila Glantzman-Leib, Zoe Laky, and Esther Kim have all worked on data management and processing.

Janet Monroe, Marea Newell, and Maeve Malloy conducted senior theses with these data. Maeve Malloy’s project is titled Home is Where the Heart Is: Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Cardiovascular Health Among African American Emerging Adults. Marea Newell was a summer science fellow on the project and her senior thesis is titled: Racial Discrimination and Substance Use Among Emerging Adult African Americans (you can learn more about her work here). Janet Monroe was a summer science fellow on the project and presented her work as a poster presentation at the Association for Psychological Science conference. Her work is titled: Does Racial Discrimination Associate with Diurnal Cortisol Rhythm Among Black Emerging Adults?

Health and Racial Discrimination in Daily Life – 3, Los Angeles, CA

Data collection on the third phase of the project is ongoing in Dr. Joseph’s lab at Pepperdine University. This phase of the study also includes gathering actigraphy data to assess sleep and activity.


We are grateful to all the participants who are willing to share about their lives for the purposes of this important research.