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Understanding racial health differences: the role of stressor exposure and affect reactivity




Arredondo, Carla Michelle, author
Luong, Gloria, advisor
Coatsworth, J. Douglas, committee member
Borrayo, Evelinn A., committee member

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Despite all that is known about racial differences in health and well-being outcomes, much less is known about the processes that give rise to these differences. Previous work examining racial differences in stress-health processes has primarily focused on examining stressor exposure as a predictor and posits that mediating effects account for the racial differences in health and well-being outcomes. This study expands on previous work by examining the extent to which different stressor characteristics (i.e., stressor exposure and affect reactivity) may account for racial group differences in the following health and well-being outcomes: grip strength, health conditions, self-rated health, depressive symptoms, loneliness, and life satisfaction, and by testing for both mediating and moderating effects of each stressor characteristic. Results demonstrate that there were racial differences in self-rated health, depressive symptoms, and loneliness. In all instances, Whites demonstrated more favorable outcomes compared to non-Whites. These racial differences, however, were not accounted for by mediating effects of either stressor characteristic. Furthermore, the results indicate that race moderated the association between the stressor characteristics and grip strength, loneliness, and life satisfaction. Results are discussed in light of a stress-health framework and implications for minority health and well-being are discussed.


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