|Measuring More Than Exposure: Does Stress Appraisal Matter for Black-White Differences in Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms among Older Adults?
|Year of Publication
|Brown, LL, Abrams, LR, Mitchell, UA, Ailshire, JA
|Innovation in Aging
|Aging, Chronic stress, Health Disparities, Mental Health
Prior research and theory suggest that exposure to objectively stressful events contributes to mental health disparities. Yet, Blacks report higher cumulative stress exposure than whites but lower levels of common psychiatric disorders. In order to understand why Blacks bear disproportionate stress exposure but similar or better mental health relative to whites, we need to consider race differences in not only stress exposure, but also stress appraisal—how upsetting stress exposures are perceived to beWe examine whether race differences in the number of reported chronic stressors across five domains (health, financial, residential, relationship, caregiving) and their appraised stressfulness explain Black-white differences in anxiety and depressive symptoms. Data come from 6,019 adults ages 52+ from the 2006 Health and Retirement StudyOlder Blacks in this sample experience greater exposure to chronic stressors but appraise stressors as less upsetting relative to whites. In fully adjusted models stress exposure is related to higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms and perceiving stress as upsetting is associated with higher symptomology for whites and Blacks. We also find that Blacks report greater anxiety symptoms but fewer depressive symptoms with more stress exposure relative to whites. Stress appraisal partially explains race differences in the association between stress exposure and anxiety symptoms and fully explains race differences in the association between exposure and depressive symptomsThe relationship between race, chronic stress exposure, and mental health is mediated by stress appraisal. Stress appraisal provides insight on important pathways contributing to Black-white mental health disparities in older adulthood
|PubMed Central ID