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Resilience in African American Women at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: an Exploratory Study

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African Americans (AAs) have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) which is not fully explained by traditional CVD risk factors such as smoking, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Evidence demonstrates that chronic stress, low subjective status, and lack of social support play important roles in increasing the risk for CVD, particularly in minority women. Increasing evidence demonstrates that resilience may ameliorate the effect of social stressors on the development of CVD. However, little is known about the social context that may influence resilience in AA women. Therefore, the purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the predictors of resilience in AA women at risk for CVD. A cross-sectional sample of AA women (N = 104) participated in the study. Participants completed measures of resilience, subjective social status, social support, and general stress. Findings revealed that participants had low levels of resilience as measured by the Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale (mean = 50.3 ± 11.4) compared to norms. Results of the multiple linear regression analysis demonstrated that both subjective social status in relation to others in the USA (p = 0.021) and perceived social support (p < 0.001) predicted greater level of resilience. The model, controlling for age, marital status, income, level of education, and general stress, accounted for a significant proportion of variance (F[8,75] = 6.6, p < .001), explaining 41.7% of the variation in resilience. Results suggest that subjective social status and social support contribute to perceived resilience in AA women. Additional research is needed to assess the association of subjective social status and social support in longitudinal studies.

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The study was supported by NIH grant K01NR013478 (PI: K. Saban) and Loyola University Chicago HealthEQ funding.

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Correspondence to Karen L. Saban.

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Saban, K.L., Tell, D. & Janusek, L. Resilience in African American Women at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: an Exploratory Study. J Urban Health 96 (Suppl 1), 44–49 (2019).

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