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Social relationships are important for promoting health and well-being in men and confer many benefits that help prevent the onset and mitigate adverse impacts of disease and disability. Social isolation, or the absence of social relationships, is associated with a wide range of negative health outcomes; however, most studies of social isolation have been conducted among predominantly White samples. As a consequence, we know very little about social isolation among Black men. Using an intersectionality framework, this study examines the prevalence and correlates of social isolation among men who identify as African American
or Black Caribbean.
Data come from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL), a nationally representative sample of
African Americans, Black Caribbeans, and Whites living in the United States. The current study focuses on men who identified as African American or Black Caribbean. Further, within this sample, we distinguish by ethnicity and nativity in examining Black men who are African American (native to the U.S.), U.S.-born Black Caribbean men, and foreign-born Black Caribbean men. Social isolation was operationalized using two constructs: interpersonal isolation and structural isolation. The analyses adjusted for age, education, income, marital status, and region. We conducted a series of Poisson regressions to determine: (1) ethnic differences in interpersonal and structural social isolation and (2) ethnic-specific correlates of interpersonal and structural social isolation among Black men. All analyses accounted for the complex study design of the NSAL.
There were no significant ethnic differences among Black men for interpersonal isolation. However, U.S. born Black Caribbean men had higher rates of structural social isolation compared to African American men and foreign-born Black Caribbean men. There were very few differences in the correlates of interpersonal isolation among Black men regardless of ethnicity. However, in terms of structural isolation, African American men had more significant correlates in comparison to U.S. born Black Caribbean men and foreign-born Black Caribbean men.
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