MPRC Seminar Series: Courtney Thomas
The Racial Self-Awareness Framework of Race-Based Stress, Coping, and Health: Evaluating Biopsychosocial Pathways among African Americans
Numerous paradoxical findings call attention to gaps in current knowledge of health disparities. For instance, African Americans, on average, have fewer socioeconomic resources, greater exposure to psychosocial stressors, and experience more chronic health conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, hypertension) and premature mortality relative to non-Hispanic Whites. However, rates of psychopathology (e.g. major depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse) are substantially lower among African Americans. These unexpected patterns challenge our understanding of racial health disparities; they also underscore the need for new approaches to assess the biopsychosocial pathways that link social environments, stress and coping experiences, and the biological processes that produce mental and physical health outcomes among African Americans. In this talk, I introduce the “Racial Self-Awareness (RSA) Framework of Race-Based Stress, Coping, and Health” to evaluate the ways that racial minority status transforms the stress process. I also apply this transdisciplinary framework in a recent study of African Americans in the Nashville Stress and Health Study to demonstrate the psychological and physiological implications of subtle, race-based stressors.
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