Article

Status Variations in Stress Exposure: Implications for the Interpretation of Research on Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Gender

Department of Sociology, Center for Demography and Population Health, Florida State University, Tallahassee, USA.
Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Impact Factor: 2.72). 01/2004; 44(4):488-505. DOI: 10.2307/1519795
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Life events checklists have been the predominant method for estimating variations in stress exposure. It is unknown, however, whether such inventories are equally meaningful for estimating differences in exposure between men and women, African Americans and whites, and those in lower and higher socioeconomic categories. In this paper, we employ a wider range of measures of stress--recent life events, chronic stressors, lifetime major events, and discrimination stress--to examine the extent to which these dimensions collectively yield conclusions about status variations in stress exposure that are similar to or different from estimates based only on a life events checklist. Our analyses of data collected from 899 young men and women of African American and non-Hispanic white ancestry suggest that status differences in exposure to stress vary considerably by the measure of stress that is employed. Although women are more exposed to recent life events than men, males report more major events and discrimination stress than females. Our results also reveal that life event measures tend to substantially under-estimate differences between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites in exposure to stress. A similar pattern also holds for socioeconomic status. When stress is more comprehensively estimated, level of exposure profoundly affects ethnic differences in depressive symptomatology, accounting for almost half of the difference by socioeconomic status but contributing little to the explanation of the gender difference in distress. The implications of these findings for the debate over the relative mental health significance of exposure and vulnerability to stress are discussed.

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    • "Disadvantage experienced in childhood may therefore continue to accumulate for women over the life course based on the structuring of opportunities and life chances by gender (Hunt & Annandale, 1999). For example, through disadvantages in paid and unpaid labour, discriminatory experiences, stress, and caregiving burdens, the impact of childhood economic hardship on health may be aggravated (Coltrane, 2000; Lundberg, 1996; Lundberg & Parr, 2000; Turner & Avison, 2003; Turner, Wheaton & Lloyd, 1995). While gender differences in health are consistent across many European countries and the US (Crimmins, Kim, & Sole-Auro, 2010), the relationship between socioeconomic resources, gender and health can very by welfare regime (Bambra et al., 2009). "

    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Longitudinal and Life Course Studies
    • "Disadvantage experienced in childhood may therefore continue to accumulate for women over the life course based on the structuring of opportunities and life chances by gender (Hunt & Annandale, 1999). For example, through disadvantages in paid and unpaid labour, discriminatory experiences, stress, and caregiving burdens, the impact of childhood economic hardship on health may be aggravated (Coltrane, 2000; Lundberg, 1996; Lundberg & Parr, 2000; Turner & Avison, 2003; Turner, Wheaton & Lloyd, 1995). While gender differences in health are consistent across many European countries and the US (Crimmins, Kim, & Sole-Auro, 2010), the relationship between socioeconomic resources, gender and health can very by welfare regime (Bambra et al., 2009). "

    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Longitudinal and Life Course Studies
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    • "Racial status influences every aspect of stress and coping processes (Beatty et al., 2011; Belgrave & Allison , 2010; Chapman & Mullis, 2000; Chun et al., 2006; Iwaski et al., 2008), and as such, racial differences in the availability or efficacy of coping styles may derive from racial variation in exposure to social constraints . Ongoing racism and socioeconomic disadvantage increase the likelihood of stress exposure among African Americans (Taylor & Turner, 2002; Turner & Avison, 2003) and may result in their tendency to appraise social strains as more normative than Whites do (Haley et al., 1996; Anshel et al., 2009). Relative to their White counterparts, moreover, African Americans encounter more enduring stressors (Iwaski et al., 2008; Beatty et al., 2011; Kuo, 2011; Maton et al., 1996), which are often difficult to resolve with problemfocused approaches (Jung & Khlasa, 1989; Haley et al., 1996). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Despite their higher rates of stress, African American young adults tend toward similar or lower rates of substance misuse than their White counterparts. Arguably, such patterns derive from: (1) racial variations in the availability of coping strategies that mitigate stress; and/or (2) racial differences in the efficacy of available coping styles for reducing substance misuse. Objectives: We assessed whether two coping style types-problem-focused and avoidance-oriented-varied by race (non-Hispanic African American vs. non-Hispanic White) and whether the effects of coping styles on substance misuse were moderated by race. Methods: Using data from a community sample of South Florida young adults, we employed logistic regression analyses to examine racial differences in coping style and to test if race by coping style interactions (race × problem-focused coping and race × avoidance-oriented coping) influenced the odds of qualifying for a DSM-IV substance use disorder, net of lifetime stressful events and sociodemographic controls. Results: We found that African American young adults displayed lower problem-focused coping, and higher avoidance-oriented coping, than did White young adults. Among both African American and White respondents, problem-focused coping was associated with reduced odds of illicit drug use disorder (excluding marijuana), and among Whites, avoidance-oriented coping was associated with increased odds of an aggregate measure of alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drug use disorders. Among African Americans, however, avoidance-oriented coping was associated with lower odds of marijuana use disorder. Conclusion: Substance misuse policies and practices that consider the sociocultural contexts of stress and coping are recommended.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Substance Use & Misuse
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