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John Henryism and blood pressure differences among black men. II. The role of occupational stressors


In this study, the effects of psychosocial job stressors on the resting blood pressure (BP) of 112 black male workers were examined. The subjects resided in a rural, poor, predominantly black community in eastern North Carolina. The job stressors included unemployment, lack of job security, lack of job success, the perception that wages earned were too low for the work performed (and inhibited anger about unfair wages), and the perception that being black had hindered chances for achieving job success. The effect-modifying influence of on-the-job social support, and John Henryism, on several of these relationships was also examined. For systolic blood pressure, a main effect was observed for job security, and an interaction effect was observed for employment status and time of day of interview. For diastolic blood pressure, significant interactions were observed for job success and John Henryism, and for job success and the perception that being black had hindered chances for achieving job success. These findings further clarify under what conditions John Henryism may be associated with higher BPs in this sample of black men. These findings also shed light on the emotional pathways through which selected job stressors may influence resting BPs in these men.

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Correspondence to Sherman A. James.

Additional information

This research was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (5938) and by a Research Career Development Award (K04 HL01011) to Sherman A. James from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The authors thank Stan Kasl, Edward Wagner, and Laurence Watkins for critiquing an earlier version of this paper and Lesa McPherson and Sue Hartnett for their invaluable technical assistance.

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James, S.A., LaCroix, A.Z., Kleinbaum, D.G. et al. John Henryism and blood pressure differences among black men. II. The role of occupational stressors. J Behav Med 7, 259–275 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00845359

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  • Blood Pressure
  • Social Support
  • Systolic Blood Pressure
  • Diastolic Blood Pressure
  • Employment Status