The Strong African American Families Healthy Adult Project (SHAPE) followed 493 African American youth from ages 11 to 20. Participants have grown up in rural Georgia communities in which poverty rates for African Americans are among the highest in the nation. Life in rural areas can be more challenging than in urban areas due to restricted educational and employment opportunities, difficulties in obtaining physical and mental health care, and a lack of public transportation. Despite living in such challenging situations, many SHAPE participants have displayed high levels of psychosocial functioning across adolescence. We identified naturally occurring factors in family and community networks that protected these youth from the consequences of SES- and race-related stressors that proliferate in rural Southern contexts. Epidemiological research reveals that African Americans in the rural South are among the most disadvantaged populations in the US in terms of chronic diseases of aging (CDA) such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Emerging evidence indicates that contemporaneous health determinants in midlife or later cannot adequately account for why rural African Americans experience high rates of CDAs. Rather, many CDAs incubate in physiological systems for decades prior to the manifestation of disease. In the next 5 years, SHAPE participants will experience a stressful developmental transition. Job turnover rates are high, and the combined effects of poor preparation for employment and discriminatory hiring practices make obtaining stable employment a protracted and often demoralizing process. These stressors have the potential to take a toll on SHAPE participants'health, undermining psychosocial functioning and contributing to CDA-related vulnerabilities. To understand the pathways from stress exposure during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood to CDA vulnerabilities and psychosocial outcomes, we propose to extend the SHAPE research program in two key ways. First we propose to augment our health assessment of SHAPE participants to include markers of metabolic syndrome and pro-inflammatory tendencies which are linked to the development of CDAs. Second, we propose to investigate a critical question for public health scientists and practitioners. In response to stress exposure, some SHAPE participants will evince escalation in CDA vulnerability whereas other will not. This proposal is designed to investigate why. Evidence from laboratory-based studies suggests a central role for psychosocial risk and protective mechanisms in young adulthood and earlier phases of development in altering the pathways linking stress exposure and CDA precursors. Prospective research investigating these risk and protective mechanisms, however, is virtually nonexistent. We thus propose to collect data from SHAPE participants, at ages 22 and 24 years, that includes CDA precursors along with assessments of environmental stressors, psychosocial adjustment, risk and protective mechanisms, HPA axis/SNS deregulation, and health behavior.

Public Health Relevance

African Americans in the rural South are among the most disadvantaged populations in the US in terms of health disparities. Recent research suggests that the roots of these disparities lie in earlier stages of development as young people cope with stressful environments. In this study we investigate the risk and protective processes that explain why some young adult rural African Americans develop vulnerabilities to chronic diseases and others do not.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
2R01HD030588-20A1
Application #
8761711
Study Section
Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
Program Officer
Esposito, Layla E
Project Start
1993-04-01
Project End
2019-06-30
Budget Start
2014-07-01
Budget End
2015-06-30
Support Year
20
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of Georgia
Department
Psychology
Type
Organized Research Units
DUNS #
City
Athens
State
GA
Country
United States
Zip Code
30602
Barton, Allen W; Brody, Gene H; Zapolski, Tamika C B et al. (2018) Trajectory classes of cannabis use and heavy drinking among rural African American adolescents: multi-level predictors of class membership. Addiction 113:1439-1449
Brody, Gene H; Yu, Tianyi; Miller, Gregory E et al. (2018) John Henryism Coping and Metabolic Syndrome Among Young Black Adults. Psychosom Med 80:216-221
Brody, Gene H; Yu, Tianyi; Chen, Edith et al. (2018) Racial discrimination, body mass index, and insulin resistance: A longitudinal analysis. Health Psychol 37:1107-1114
Chen, E; Miller, G E; Yu, T et al. (2018) Unsupportive parenting moderates the effects of family psychosocial intervention on metabolic syndrome in African American youth. Int J Obes (Lond) 42:634-640
Barton, Allen W; Yu, Tianyi; Brody, Gene H et al. (2018) Childhood poverty, catecholamines, and substance use among African American young adults: The protective effect of supportive parenting. Prev Med 112:1-5
Holmes, Christopher J; Barton, Allen W; MacKillop, James et al. (2018) Parenting and Salience Network Connectivity Among African Americans: A Protective Pathway for Health-Risk Behaviors. Biol Psychiatry 84:365-371
Chen, Edith; Yu, Tianyi; Miller, Gregory E et al. (2018) Substance Use and Obesity Trajectories in African Americans Entering Adulthood. Am J Prev Med 55:856-863
Beach, Steven R H; Lei, Man Kit; Brody, Gene H et al. (2018) Prevention of Early Substance Use Mediates, and Variation at SLC6A4 Moderates, SAAF Intervention Effects on OXTR Methylation. Prev Sci 19:90-100
Chen, Yi-Fu; Yu, Tianyi; Brody, Gene H (2017) Parenting Intervention at Age 11 and Cotinine Levels at Age 20 Among African American Youth. Pediatrics 140:
Brody, Gene H; Yu, Tianyi; Barton, Allen W et al. (2017) Youth temperament, harsh parenting, and variation in the oxytocin receptor gene forecast allostatic load during emerging adulthood. Dev Psychopathol 29:791-803

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