Chronic Stress, Coping, and Mental Health Among Older African Americans

Dawne M. Mouzon, PhD

Publication Date: 05/06/2022



African Americans experience relatively low rates of mental disorder despite being disproportionately exposed to psychosocial stressors. Coping is an understudied area that may help explain the mental health resilience among this population.


Using data from the National Survey of American Life, I use negative binomial logistic regression to investigate the relationships between stress exposure/appraisal, ten coping responses, and mental health among older African American adults.


Seven of 10 coping responses were predictive of psychological distress. I also found evidence of moderation for six responses. Active coping, instrumental social support, looking for something good in what has happened, and two measures of acceptance were protective against psychological distress associated with high levels of stress. Substance use generally exacerbated the association between stress and psychological distress.


Problem-focused coping and acceptance responses were effective coping strategies for older African Americans under high levels of stress exposure/appraisal.


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