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Stress and Health Disparities

Stress and Health Disparities

Contexts, Mechanisms, and Interventions

Among Racial/Ethnic Minority and Low SES Populations

Source: American Psychological Association, APA Working Group on Stress and Health Disparities, 2017.

The authors wrote, “There are well-documented disparities in health by socioeconomic status and race and ethnicity (National Center for Health Statistics, 2012.) Stress has been identified as one of the top 10 determinants of disparities in health (World Health Organization [WHO], 2008). This report presents a state-of-the-science overview of research examining stress as a driver of disparities in health.”

The report describes mechanisms that link stress to health.

- Stressors associated with social and economic disadvantage affect the way people think and feel about

themselves, potentially undermining the personal resources needed to respond to threat.

- Stressors associated with disadvantage can affect development of the brain structures and processes needed

to support effective self-regulation and stress recovery.

- Stressors and their downstream effects on psychobiological stress systems may also shape health behaviors,

driving obesity and substance abuse.

Recommendations for Research:

- Multidisciplinary research to examine interrelationships among barriers to health that operate at the individual, family, community and national levels.

- To identify the best strategies to reduce prejudice and discrimination and to identify moderators of

responses to strategies to reduce race-related stress.

- To develop the complex models and statistical methods to understand the effects of stress on susceptibility

and resilience.

- Enhance long-term investment in research needed to reduce disparities by increasing the availability of

fellowships for early career researches committed to health disparities research.

Recommendations for Education and Practice:

- Improve the capacity of psychology training programs to train clinicians to discuss and address the effects of

inequality and injustice on individual and community health.

- Integrate multidisciplinary work to develop strategies for improving collaboration and problem-solving

among diverse groups.

- Provide graduate and continuing education training to health care providers working with racial/ethnic and

low SES populations to ensure that providers are highly competent and skilled in best practices for addressing

minority and culturally-related stress.

Dr. Hussein Addition

- Investigate the long-term impact of intense, persistent child hood stress and its impact on health beliefs

and health behaviors, in an effort to identify interventions that work to reduce negative health impact.

Prepared by Dr. Carlessia A. Hussein

Conversation held with APA Editor on

February 7, 2018 regarding use

of this material.

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