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Stress and Well-Being in Everyday Life (SWEL Study)


Collaborators: Kira S. Birditt (PI), Toni C. Antonucci, Richard D. Gonzalez, James S. Jackson, Kayvan Najarian

Funding: National Institute on Aging

Grant: R01 (AG054371)

Project Period: 09/01/2016 – 08/30/2021

Description: Hypertension is the number one cause of racial group disparities in mortality in the U.S. Thus, understanding the mechanisms by which race is linked with the cardiovascular system is key. African Americans (AA) are exposed to more stress across the lifespan and lifetime adversity is associated with cardiovascular disease (CHD) and hypertension. However, mechanisms accounting for the links between long-term stress exposure, hypertension and CHD remain unclear. Cardiovascular reactivity is hypothesized to be a major contender as it predicts increased risk of cardiac events and mortality, especially among people with hypertension. According to existing theories of racial health disparities, stress, and social relations, racial health disparities are due to variations in long-term exposure to stress and stress reactivity (biological, psychological, behavioral) and those race differences are moderated by social relations and age.

This study tests associations between long-term stress exposure and short-term stress reactivity by race and age; it examines age differences in long-term stress exposure and short-term reactivity by race; and it determines how long-term social relationships moderate differences in stress exposure and reactivity. A more nuanced understanding of the psychological and biological implications of stress among diverse populations will lead to the development and testing of interventions for reducing stress, later health problems, and health disparities.