Online Program

Coping with chronic stress by unhealthy behaviors: A re-evaluation among older adults by race/ethnicity

Monday, November 2, 2015

Erik Rodriquez, Ph.D., M.P.H., Division of Intramural Research, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, MD
Steven Gregorich, Ph.D., Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Jennifer Livaudais-Toman, Ph.D., Department of Medicine, University of Califoria, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Eliseo Perez-Stable, M.D., Department Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Objectives. To assesses the role of unhealthy behaviors in the relationship between
chronic stress and depressive symptoms by race/ethnicity among older adults.
Methods. Participant data from the 2006-2008 Health and Retirement Study were
analyzed. Unhealthy behaviors (smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and current
obesity) and chronic stress were assessed in 2006. The 8-item CES-D scale measured
depressive symptoms in 2006 and 2008. Logistic regression assessed the effects of
chronic stress and unhealthy behaviors on depressive symptoms.
Results. 5142 Whites, 843 African Americans, and 494 Latinos were included. Greater
chronic stress predicted depressive symptoms among African Americans, Latinos, and
Whites (OR=1.77, 95% CI=1.43-2.17, OR=1.41, 95% CI=1.10-1.82, and OR=1.39, 95%
CI=1.25-1.54, respectively). However, unhealthy behaviors did not moderate this
relationship. Among Latinos and Whites, smoking was related to future depressive
symptoms (OR=7.90, 95% CI=2.02-30.9 and OR=1.72, 95% CI=1.03-2.88).
Conclusions. Unhealthy behaviors were not effective coping mechanisms for chronic
stress. Chronic stress and smoking was predictive of future depressive symptoms.
Findings can be used to encourage smoking cessation among older adults and ethnic
minorities and to support policies to debunk the myth of coping with stress by smoking.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the effect of chronic stress on depressive symptoms by race/ethnicity. Identify the racial/ethnic group(s) where depressive symptoms is impacted by smoking. Explain the likely reason(s) why differences exist between the currently presented findings and past research.

Keyword(s): Stress, Depression

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a highly trained epidemiologist (i.e., Ph.D. in Epidemiology and M.P.H. in Health Services Research) with intensive postdoctoral training in tobacco control and ten years of experience conducting research among racial/ethnic minority populations (e.g., Latino, African American, etc.)
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.