The relationship of perceived racism, neuroticism, negative affectivity, and coping strategies to blood pressure, stress symptoms, and health variables among Latino college students
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This study explored the relationship between perceived racism and stress symptoms in a sample of Latina/o women and men. One hundred and fifty-one female and male Latina/o college students participated in this study. Resting blood pressure, weight, and height measurements were taken after which participants completed 6 questionnaires measuring experience of perceived racism, coping strategies, neuroticism, negative affectivity, symptoms of distress, and perceived stress. Questionnaires employed included the Perceived Racism Scale for Latinos (PRSL), the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS), the Neuroticism subscale of the NEO PI-R, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist-21 (HSCL-21), and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). It was hypothesized that neuroticism, negative affectivity, and emotion-focused coping would be positively correlated with self-reports of perceived racism while avoidance coping would be negatively correlated with perceived racism. Perceived racism was hypothesized to predict increased blood pressure, symptoms of distress, and perceived stress. Other predictors included in these regression models included, task-focused, emotion-focused, and avoidant coping strategies, neuroticism, negative affectivity, Body Mass Index, age, and gender. Emotion-focused coping, task-focused coping, and BMI were positively correlated with increased self-reports of perceived racism. Hypotheses that perceived racism would significantly predict increased blood pressure, symptoms of distress, and perceived stress were not supported. Notably, perceived racism significantly predicted frequency of visits to a physician over the past two months after controlling for variance associated with neuroticism, negative affectivity, coping strategies, BMI, age, and gender. Avoidant coping negatively predicted both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, while neuroticism negatively predicted diastolic blood pressure. Argument is presented to suggest that items measuring social support rather than maladaptive avoidant coping are responsible for the significant prediction of blood pressure from avoidance coping. BMI also predicted higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Male gender was predictive of higher systolic blood pressure while age predicted higher diastolic blood pressure. Neuroticism and negative affectivity were predictive of symptoms of distress. Perceived stress was predicted by emotion-focused coping, neuroticism, negative affectivity, and BMI. Potential explanations for these results are offered as well as implications and suggestions for future research.