Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 120–127

Effects of social stressors on cardiovascular reactivity in black and white women

  • Stephen J. Lepore
  • Tracey A. Revenson
  • Sarah L. Weinberger
  • Peter Weston
  • Pasquale G. Frisina
  • Rommel Robertson
  • Minerva Mentor Portillo
  • Hollie Jones
  • William Cross
Article

Abstract

Background: Behavioral scientists have theorized that perceived racism in social interactions may account for some of the observed disparities in coronary heart disease between Black and White Americans.Purpose: The objective was to examine whether racial stress influences cardiovascular reactivity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.Methods: We measured cardiovascular responses in Black and White women (n = 80) as they talked about 3 hypothetical scenarios: (a) being accused of shoplifting (racial stressor), (b) experiencing airport delays (nonracial stressor), and (c) giving a campus tour (control).Results: Relative to White women, Black women had significantly greater mean diastolic blood pressure reactivity (3.81 vs. 0.25 mmHg; p < .05) in response to the racial stressor than in response to the nonracial stressor. Black women exhibited significantly lower heart rate during recovery following the racial stressor than during recovery following the nonracial stressor (−0.37 beats/min vs. 0.86 beats/min; p < .001). Among Black women, those who explicitly made race attributions during the racial stressor had greater systolic but not diastolic blood pressure reactivity than those who did not make racial attributions (8.32 mmHg vs. 2.17 mmHg; p < .05).Conclusions: These findings suggest that perceived racism in social interactions may contribute to increased physiological stress for Black women.

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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen J. Lepore
    • 2
  • Tracey A. Revenson
    • 3
  • Sarah L. Weinberger
    • 4
  • Peter Weston
    • 4
  • Pasquale G. Frisina
    • 4
  • Rommel Robertson
    • 4
  • Minerva Mentor Portillo
    • 1
  • Hollie Jones
    • 1
  • William Cross
    • 1
  1. 1.The Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkUSA
  2. 2.Columbia UniversityTeachers CollegeUSA
  3. 3.The Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkUSA
  4. 4.Brooklyn CollegeCity University of New YorkUSA
  5. 5.Department of Health & Behavior Studies, Box 114, Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew York

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