Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

Sub-Department

Clinical-Community Psychology

First Advisor

Shauna M Cooper

Abstract

In the larger stress and coping literature, several studies have examined ethnic differences in stress experiences and coping behaviors (Plummer and Slane, 1996; Slavin et al., 1991; Brantley et al., 2002). However, these studies are often comparative in nature and fail to examine within group variation (Plummer & Slane, 1996; Slavin et al., 1991; Smith, 1985). Similarly, studies have also neglected to examine how African American women cope when confronted with certain stressors and the associated mental health outcomes. With this in mind, the goal of the current study is to close existing gaps by examining the relationship between routine stressors and depressive symptomology in African American women. The current investigation specifically focuses on three dimensions of stress (perceived stress, family stress, and racial discrimination), which have been suggested as common stressors for African Americans. The current study examined the direct and moderating effects of positive coping (religious, active, instrumental support coping) on depressive symptomology. One hundred seventy African American females (M=20.05; SD=2.34) who attended two universities in the Southeastern region of the United States were included in the present study.

Findings from the current study indicated that racial discrimination (β `s ranging from .25 to .27 across all models, p< .01) and family responsibility (β's ranging from .20 to .26, p< .05) were associated with increased depressive symptoms. Additionally, testing the interactive effects of coping strategies on depressive symptoms, analyses revealed two significant two-way interactions. One interaction examined the moderating role of religious coping on discrimination (β = .079, p < .05). For females experiencing less discrimination, greater religious coping was associated with fewer depressive symptoms. However, for females experiencing more discrimination, greater religious coping was associated with more depressive symptoms. The other significant two-way interaction examined the moderating role of instrumental support on family stress (β = .147, p < .05). Findings indicated that females with less instrumental support, family stress was unrelated to depressive symptoms. However, for females reporting greater instrumental support, high family stress was associated with more depressive symptoms.

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