2018 Jenike Young Investigator Award

Obsessive-compulsive symptoms in African American young adults: The roles of racial discrimination and racial identity

Henry Willis, MA

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)

Award Amount: $25,826

Past research has shown that people with OCD experience worsened symptoms when under stress. Some stressors are unique to distinct identities and statuses in a larger society. For African Americans in the United States, racial discrimination is one of these unique stressors.

Mr. Willis and his team will investigate the role of racial discrimination in the intrusive thoughts experienced by African Americans with OCD. He will also examine whether African Americans who hold a sense of belonging and commitment to a larger group defined by their race — a racial identity — may be less likely to develop certain OCD symptoms. This project will contribute to what has so far been a limited body of research regarding African Americans and OCD, and may inform future treatment for this population of OCD patients.