A New Model for Evaluating Stress in Black American Families

Faculty; Public Health; Research

Societal stressors such as racism and segregation should be considered when studying the impact of stress on the health of African-American families, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt University.

Building on previous literature, the authors proposed an integrative model for the examination of stress that provides a historical context on how the race-related, economic and political histories of Black families have contributed to stressors, including employment and housing.

“We are excited to see the use of this model in public health and social sciences to better understand the experiences of Black families,” said co-author Dr. Sheretta Butler-Barnes, assistant professor at the Brown School. The first author was Dr. Velma McBride Murry, professor at Vanderbilt University.

The authors said the literature revealed a major gap in connecting societal stressors to outcomes such as compromised mental health, drug use and sexually transmitted infections. “Most notable is a lack of progress in identifying the protective processes in Black families that allow them to overcome major challenges,” the authors wrote.

The study was published April 30 in the Journal of Family Theory & Review.

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