Category: Cultural Diversity / Vulnerable Populations

PS14- #C84 - Stress and Internalizing Symptoms Among Racial/Ethnically Diverse Women: A Cultural Mismatch Perspective

Saturday, Nov 18
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Adult Anxiety | Adult Depression | Cultural Diversity/ Vulnerable Populations

Introduction: Women are likely susceptible to higher levels of stress and internalizing disorders than men (Van de Velde and Levecque, 2010). The association between stress and internalizing symptoms among racial/ethnic minority women, however, remains inconsistent (Muñoz-Laboy, et al., 2015; Appel et al., 2014). We posit that inconsistencies in the relation between stress and internalizing symptoms may be accounted for by failure to consider (1) both cognitive and somatic dimensions of anxiety and depression along with (2) independent self-construal, an unexamined, but important cultural variable implicated in cultural mismatch and stress. The overall objective of the study was to examine if independent self-construal moderates the association between stress and internalizing symptoms (both cognitive and somatic) among Hispanic, African American, and Asian American women.

Participants were 176 women with the mean age of 22.63 years (SD = 4.74 years) and an age range of 18 to 45 years. The ethnic composition of the sample was diverse, with 79 Hispanic individuals (44.8%), 56 Asian Americans (31.8%), and 41 African Americans (23.2%). Participants completed the Self-Construal Scale (Singelis, 1994), the State-Trait Inventory for Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety (Ree, MacLeod, French, & Locke, 2000), the Beck Depression Inventory – Second Edition (Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996), and the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983).

 The results showed that the regression model predicting cognitive symptoms of anxiety was significant (F(5, 166) = 20.70, p< .001). Main effects of perceived stress (β = 0.54, p < .0001), independent self-construal (β = -0.09, p < .01), and the interaction term (stress x independent self-construal; β = -.007, p < .05) yielded significant results. In predicting the cognitive symptoms of depression, the overall model was significant (F(5, 166) = 14.8, p< .0001). Main effects of perceived stress (β = 0.4, p < .0001), independent self-construal (β = -0.05, p < .05), and the interaction term (β = -0.009, p < .05) were significant. The form of the interactions for both models indicated that the association of stress and internalizing cognitive symptoms were stronger for those with lower independent self-construal, relative to those with higher independent self-construal. In predicting somatic symptoms, neither model was significant for anxiety or depression.   

Overall, this study delivers novel insight into the factors affecting internalizing symptoms for racial/ethnically diverse women. This study indicates that cognitive, more so than somatic, symptoms of internalizing disorders may be exacerbated among racial/ethnic minority women who experience high levels of stress and low independent self-construal. It is the first study of its kind to investigate the intersection of stress and internalizing symptoms, with particular emphasis on self-construal and gender. Tthese results raise important considerations for future methodological designs and highlight the urgency for investigating the cultural mismatch for individuals with low independent self-construal in highly independent environments. 

David C. Talavera

Doctoral Student
University of Houston

Mary Odafe

University of Houston

Soumia Cheref

Doctoral Student
University of Houston

Judy Hong

University of Houston

Christopher D. Barr

University of Houston

Rheeda Walker

University of Houston