Race-related stress and hypertension prevalence

2/19/2014 feature story

Jeffrey Morenoff, James House, and colleagues find that racism-related vigilance--a form of chronic psychosocial stress connected to discrimination--is associated with increased odds of hypertension among blacks.

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James S. House
Jeffrey Morenoff

Publication Information:

Hicken, Margaret, Hedy Lee, Jeffrey Morenoff, James S. House, and David R. Williams. 2014. "Racial/ethnic Disparities in Hypertension Prevalence: Reconsidering the Role of Chronic Stress." American Journal of Public Health, 104(1): 117-123. PMCID: PMC3910029.

Using data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study, we investigated the association between anticipatory stress, also known as racism-related vigilance, and hypertension prevalence in Black, Hispanic, and White adults. We regressed hypertension prevalence on the interaction between race/ethnicity and vigilance in logit models and found that Blacks reported the highest vigilance levels. For Blacks, each unit increase in vigilance was associated with a 4% increase in the odds of hypertension. Hispanics showed a similar but nonsignificant association, and Whites showed no association. We conclude that vigilance may represent a significant source of chronic stress that contributes to the higher prevalence of hypertension among Blacks than Whites, and possibly to hypertension among Hispanics.

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