Examining the Relationship Between Racial Identity Status and Race-Related Stress in African Americans
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Race-related stress has been found to impact the mental health of African Americans in literature. Three manuscripts were developed for this dissertation. The first is a critical literature review identifying the multiple pathways by which racism can affect mental health, and the current research addressing this problem is presented. Second, a quantitative study looking at what type of coping mechanisms African Americans use when dealing with race-related stress and how racial identity statuses impact these coping mechanisms?; The third manuscript addresses the research question, among the identified coping mechanisms, is there a relationship with psychological distress? The first manuscript is a critical literature review which discusses racism, race-related stress, and coping resources. The aim of the paper is to identify the multiple pathways by which racism can affect mental health and the current research addressing this problem. Initially, views of racism and race-related stress will be identified; theories for use of stress will be examined, and how racial identity status influences the perception of racism. In addition, individual strategies for coping with racism will be discussed, as well as major approaches to coping that have received sufficient research with regard to their effectiveness for mental and physical outcomes. The purpose of the first quantitative study was to examine the relationships among race-related stress, racial identity status, and coping resources in African Americans in a sample of 294 African American adults. Results indicated that avoidance coping and seeking social support predicted higher levels of race-related stress. Problem solving coping did not predict race-related stress. In addition, racial identity status (pre-encounter and immersion-emersion) predicted avoidance coping where racial identity status (internalization) predicted more problem solving coping behavior. The findings emphasize the need to recognize how racial identity status influence styles of coping in African Americans. Implications for mental health providers are discussed. The purpose of the second study was to examine the relationships between race-related stress, coping resources, and mental health in African Americans in a sample of 294 African American adults. Results indicated they were a predictor of psychological distress and well-being in African Americans. Specifically, the avoidance coping mechanism led to participants in the study experiencing more psychological distress when using this coping resource. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the results, which confirmed our hypothesis that mal-adaptive coping strategies predicted psychological distress. The findings emphasize the need to recognize how coping styles influence mental health in African Americans. Implications for mental health providers are discussed.
Hurst, Morgan (2010). Examining the Relationship Between Racial Identity Status and Race-Related Stress in African Americans. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from