Dr. Young's LabMEASURING STRESS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN
Michelle Leoma Coleman, Masters, December 2006
Recent research has indicated a strong relationship between stress and negative health outcomes (Klitzman et al., 1990). Populations that experience elevated levels of stressors therefore are at an increased risk for negative health outcomes. Cunningham (2000) and Kuczmarski (1994) suggest that African American women are a subgroup whose exposure to life stressors surpasses that of both African American men and Caucasian men and women. Thus, African American women face an increased risk of stress-related negative health outcomes. The unique experiences of African American women, however, makes the construct of stress difficult to assess with standard tools developed for stress measurement. As a result, these instruments may misrepresent the degree of stress in this population.
To date, there are few validated measures that have been developed specifically to capture the nature of stress in minority populations. Although common measures such as the Life Experience of Stress Scale (LES; Sarason et al., 1978), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Cohen et al, 1983), and Daily Hassel Scale (DHS; De Longis et al., 1982) may validly measure levels of stress, they lack components that capture the unique experiences of minority populations. Without considering stressors that are commonly endorsed by African American women, we may not obtain an accurate measurement of their stress. The current study developed a modified American Women's Stress Scale (AWSS). In addition, the psychometric properties of the newly modified measure were evaluated. One hundred seventy-seven participants from a Chicago community sample completed the modified African American Women's Stress Scale along with other measures of stress, and a demographic screen. Overall, results suggested that the Modified AWSS has excellent test-retest reliability (r=.80), strong to moderate internal consistency (alpha= .95-.96), and good convergent validity (r= .42 to .54) with other established measures of stress.