Age differences in health effects of stressors and perceived control among urban African American women

A. B. Becker*, B. A. Israel, A. J. Schulz, E. A. Parker, L. Klem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A conceptual model of the stress process has been useful in examining relationships among a variety of stressors, health status, and protective factors that modify the health-stress relationship. The model can contribute to an understanding of variations in health among people living in urban environments experiencing high degrees of stress. This study examines social contextual stressors in the neighborhood, health outcomes, and perceived control at multiple levels beyond the individual as a protective factor, among a random sample (N = 679) of predominantly low-income African American women who reside on Detroit's east side. Findings suggest that although stress has a consistently negative impact on health, perceived control may buffer against the deleterious effects of stress. The buffering role of perceived control, however, depends on age, the type of stressor examined, and the context or level at which perceived control is assessed (e.g., organizational, neighborhood, beyond the neighborhood). For young women, perceived control was found to be health protective. Among older women, perceived control in the face of stressors was inversely related to health. These findings suggest the need for health and social service programs and policy change strategies to both increase the actual influence and control of women living in low-income urban communities and to reduce the specific social contextual stressors they experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-141
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005


  • African American women
  • Community empowerment
  • Perceived control
  • Stress
  • Urban health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Urban Studies


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