208397 Evaluating associations between fatalism and mastery, and a physiological indicator of stress in Mexican-American women living in the border region of San Diego, California

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 12:35 PM

Jessica Jiménez, MA , Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Karla Espinosa de los Monteros, BA , SDSU Center for Behavioral and Community Health Studies, SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA
Paul J. Mills, PhD , Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA
John P. Elder, PhD, MPH , Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Linda C. Gallo, PhD , Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego State University/University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA
Little is known about the role of cultural beliefs and stress-related hormonal responses within Latinos. Fatalism, the perception that destiny is beyond one's personal control, has been noted as a maladaptive coping mechanism, and has been associated with negative health outcomes among Latinos. Mastery, the perception of personal control over important life outcomes, has traditionally been measured in non-Latinos, and is associated with positive health outcomes. Using data from an ongoing study of SES and psychosocial factors related to CVD risk, we investigated associations between fatalism and mastery with urinary cortisol levels in 147 Mexican-American women. Participants (mean age = 49 years; 51% with high school education or more) completed an overnight urine collection, a 4-item fatalism scale, and a 7-item mastery scale. A linear regression simultaneously assessed associations between fatalism and mastery with cortisolµg/g creatinine, after adjusting for age, SES, and acculturation status. Whereas fatalism was not significantly associated with cortisol (p=.424), mastery had an inverse association, and accounted for 5.3% of the variability in cortisol levels. Woman with lower mastery displayed higher urinary cortisol levels than individuals with higher mastery scores, OR (95%CI) =1.24 (1.06, 1.45), p=.005). Although fatalism may not be associated with cortisol levels, higher mastery appears to be protective. These findings suggest that perceptions of personal control may attenuate psychological perceptions of stress, thus leading to blunted autonomic arousal. Further research is needed to understand how cultural beliefs affect psychological and physiological responses and resiliency among Latinos.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the relationship between cultural values and physiological stress response

Keywords: Latinas, Stress

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a second year doctoral student in the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health (Health Behavior). NIH T32 scholar in Cardiovascular Epidemiology.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Psychiatric Epidemiology
See more of: Epidemiology