This study employs multi-level and mixed-methods approaches to examine how structural violence affects the health of low-income, single Black mothers. We use multilevel regression models to examine how feeling “trapped” in racially segregated neighborhoods with high levels of violence on the South Side of Chicago affects mothers’ (N = 69) reports of posttraumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms. The relationship between feeling “trapped” and variations in expression of mRNA for the glucocorticoid receptor gene NR3C1 using microarray assays was also examined. The regression models revealed that feeling “trapped” significantly predicted increased mental distress in the form of PTSD, depressive symptoms, and glucocorticoid receptor gene regulation. The mothers’ voices revealed a nuanced understanding about how a lack of financial resources to move out of the neighborhood creates feelings of being “trapped” in dangerous situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2513-2527
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Black mothers
  • Glucocorticoid receptors
  • Mixed-methods
  • Neighborhood violence
  • PTSD and depressive symptoms
  • Racism
  • Structural violence
  • Trapped

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Anthropology
  • Health Policy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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