Category: 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.
Methods: 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).
Results: 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.
Conclusion: 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 Talavera– Doctoral Student, University of Houston
Mary Odafe– University of Houston
Soumia Cheref– Doctoral Student, University of Houston
Judy Hong– University of Houston
Christopher Barr– University of Houston
Rheeda Walker– University of Houston