Disentangling the Stress Process: Race/Ethnic Differences in the Exposure and Appraisal of Chronic Stressors among Older Adults.

TitleDisentangling the Stress Process: Race/Ethnic Differences in the Exposure and Appraisal of Chronic Stressors among Older Adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsBrown, LL, Mitchell, UA, Ailshire, JA
JournalJournals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsChronic stress, Depressive symptoms, Racial/ethnic differences, Socioeconomic factors

Objectives: Exposure to stressors is differentially distributed by race/ethnicity with minority groups reporting a higher stress burden than their white counterparts. However, to really understand the extent to which some groups bear a disproportionate stress burden we need to consider race/ethnic differences in stress appraisal, specifically how upsetting stressors may be, in addition to stress exposure. We examine racial/ethnic differences in both the number of reported chronic stressors across 5 domains (health, financial, residential, relationship and caregiving) and their appraised stressfulness among a diverse sample of older adults.

Method: Data come from 6,567 adults ages 52+ from the 2006 Health and Retirement Study.

Results: Results show older blacks, US and foreign-born Hispanics report more chronic stress exposure than whites and are two to three times as likely to experience financial strain and housing-related stress. Socioeconomic factors fully explain the Hispanic-white difference in stress exposure, but black-white differences remain. Despite experiencing a greater number of stressors, blacks and US-born Hispanics are less likely to be upset by exposure to stressors than whites. US-born Hispanics are less upset by relationship-based stressors specifically, while blacks are less upset across all stress domains in fully adjusted models. Foreign-born Hispanics are only less upset by caregiving strain.

Discussion: The distinction between exposure and appraisal based measures of stress may shed light on important pathways that differentially contribute to race/ethnic physical and mental health disparities.

User Guide Notes


Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Citation Key9766
PubMed ID29878196
Grant ListR00 AG039528 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
T32 AG000037 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States