Black women are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease (CVD). While stress has been identified as a key contributor to CVD risk, research has not identified the specific mechanisms through which stress influences CVD risk among Black women, a group disproportionately affected by this disease. Culture and emotion regulation have been shown to impact health behaviors and health outcomes associated with CVD risk among Blacks. However, limited research has examined these constructs and their associations exclusively among Black women. The proposed study will address important gaps in the literature by using innovative methodology (i.e., objective measures of health via heart rate and biological data) to assess the impact of internalization of the culturally salient Strong Black Woman (SBW) schema and emotion regulation on the relation between cardiovascular reactivity/recovery and CVD risk. Constructs evaluated will include: internalization of the SBW schema, emotion regulation abilities, reactivity to and recovery from acute stress, and CVD risk. Blood samples will be collected from a sample of 119 Black women, who will also complete questionnaires and a mental arithmetic task. Hypotheses are: 1) the effect of reactivity to acute stress on CVD risk will be moderated by internalization of the SBW schema, 2) the effect of recovery from acute stress on CVD risk will be moderated by internalization of the SBW schema, and 3) the interactive effect of reactivity to and recovery from acute stress and internalization of the SBW schema on CVD risk will be mediated by emotion regulation. Regression analyses will be utilized to test these hypotheses. Results will inform future research and ultimately the development of culturally specific prevention strategies to decrease CVD risk in Black women.
The proposed project will examine the role of psychological and sociocultural variables on CVD risk among Black women through the existence of a popular cultural construct known as the Strong Black Woman schema. This study will inform prevention and treatment efforts by identifying culturally relevant behaviors and attitudes that increase CVD risk.