Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 91, Issue 4, pp 690–706 | Cite as

Neighborhood Stressors, Mastery, and Depressive Symptoms: Racial and Ethnic Differences in an Ecological Model of the Stress Process in Chicago

  • Megan E. GilsterEmail author


Neighborhood stressors are associated with depressive symptoms and are more likely to be experienced in poor, non-White neighborhoods. Neighborhood stress process theory suggests that neighborhood stressor affect mental health through personal coping resources, such as mastery. Mastery is thought to be both a pathway and a buffer of the ill effects of neighborhood stressors. This research examines the neighborhood stress process with a focus on racial and ethnic differences in the relationship between neighborhood stressors, mastery, and depressive symptoms in a multi-ethnic sample of Chicago residents. Findings suggest race-specific effects on depressive symptoms. Mastery is found to be a pathway from neighborhood stressors to depressive symptoms but not a buffer against neighborhood stressors. Mastery is most beneficial to Whites and those living in low stress neighborhoods.


Depressive symptoms Mental health Neighborhoods Social context Multilevel analysis Neighborhood stressors Mastery 



The Chicago Community Adult Health study was supported by funds from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P50HD38986 and R01HD050467). The author was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (T32HD049302). The author would like to thank Steph Robert, Jason Houle, Amy Butler as well as members of the Chicago Community Adult Health research group, especially Jeff Morenoff, Jim House, and Jennifer Ailshire, for comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Iowa, School of Social WorkIowa CityUSA

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