Community Perspectives

Mixed-Methods Investigation of Culture, Stress, Resilence, and Health

Ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities persist and are even widening in the United States. Community-level characteristics, such as cultural attitudes to parenting and responses to stress, can help us understand and reduce health disparities.

Researchers used the Los Angeles site of the Community Child Health Network as a pilot to determine the stressors and resilience resources of people in poor African-American and Latino communities that have disproportionate burdens of disease, disability and premature death. A majority (53%) of the participants in the one-hour interview sessions were African-American; 23 percent were Latino.

In a measure of community norms and values, survey participants said they valued good parenting skills including teaching respect, as well as conventional indicators of success such as a good education, good job or luxury car. Most (72%) rated racism as a serious problem and had physical and emotional symptoms in response to a racism experience in the prior year. Their coping behaviors for stress included talking, exercising and drinking alcohol. Some 87 percent identified themselves as spiritual or religious. Top community health issues participants cited include: problems with learning (67%), asthma (65%), obesity (65%) and diabetes (39%).

These results could inform larger studies, as well as interventions to reduce stress and improve health in underrepresented communities.