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Though past research has examined the influence of social stress exposure on the mental health of older African Americans, the tendency is to investigate singular stress exposures (e.g., discrimination). Furthermore, this research rarely assesses whether the psychological effects of specific stress exposures are gender-specific. The current study fills these gaps by ascertaining (a) gendered patterns of stress exposure among older African Americans, and (b) gendered nuances in the individual, collective, and cumulative effects of stress exposure on mental health. Using the National Survey of American of Life ( N = 992; 614 women, 378 men), the study utilizes a sample of African American-identified women and men, 50 years of age and older. Study results revealed that gender patterns of stress exposure were dependent on the stress measure under investigation. In addition, women and men shared some stress predictors of mental health (e.g., everyday discrimination); nevertheless, other stress predictors were specific to women (e.g., health-related mobility challenges) while others were unique to men (e.g., perceived neighborhood crime). Study findings challenge gerontologists to engage how racial and gendered identities intersect to place race-gender groups at distinct risks for stressors that elicit poor mental health. Study results have implications for the development of tailored strategies for improving the psychological health of African American women and men in mid to late life.
Annual Review of Gerontology & Geriatrics – Springer Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 2022
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