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Psychosocial stress and social support as mediators of relationships between income, length of residence and depressive symptoms among African American women on Detroit's eastside


  • Schulz, Amy J.
  • Israel, Barbara A.
  • Zenk, Shannon N.
  • Parker, Edith A.
  • Lichtenstein, Richard
  • Shellman-Weir, Sheryl
  • A.B., Laura Klem


Patterns of mental health are clearly associated with life circumstances, including educational and economic opportunities, access to safe and supportive neighborhoods, socially structured exposures to stressors and to supportive relationships. In this article, we examine the social and economic correlates of depressive symptoms among African American women residing within a predominantly African American urban neighborhood in Detroit, USA, with relatively few economic resources. We identify distinct stressors associated with financial strain, neighborhood social disorder (concern about police responsiveness, safety stress), and experiences of discrimination. We test the extent to which each of these stressors mediates relationships between household income, length of residence in the neighborhood, social support and depressive symptoms. Our results suggest that for women in this racially segregated area with a high concentration of poverty, relationships between household income and symptoms of depression are partially mediated by financial stress and social support, but that stressors associated with neighborhood disorder and discrimination influence depressive symptoms independent of household income. Furthermore, we find that length of residence in the neighborhood is negatively associated with financial stress and positively associated with police stress and social support, with no significant net effect on symptoms of depression. We conclude that higher household income may help reduce symptoms of depression by reducing financial stress and strengthening social support even within neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty. However, increased household income does not protect African American women residing in a high poverty community from distress associated with neighborhood disorder or experiences of discrimination.

Suggested Citation

  • Schulz, Amy J. & Israel, Barbara A. & Zenk, Shannon N. & Parker, Edith A. & Lichtenstein, Richard & Shellman-Weir, Sheryl & A.B., Laura Klem, 2006. "Psychosocial stress and social support as mediators of relationships between income, length of residence and depressive symptoms among African American women on Detroit's eastside," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 510-522, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:2:p:510-522

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:2:200-208_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Silver, Eric & Mulvey, Edward P. & Swanson, Jeffrey W., 2002. "Neighborhood structural characteristics and mental disorder: Faris and Dunham revisited," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1457-1470, October.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:2:232-238_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Larson, Ann & Bell, Martin & Young, Anne Frances, 2004. "Clarifying the relationships between health and residential mobility," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(10), pages 2149-2160, November.
    5. Schulz, A. & Israel, B. & Williams, D. & Parker, E. & Becker, A. & James, S., 2000. "Social inequalities, stressors and self reported health status among African American and white women in the Detroit metropolitan area," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(11), pages 1639-1653, December.
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2004:94:5:737-738_8 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:4:624-631_4 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Fiona Imlach Gunasekara & Kristie Carter & Peter Crampton & Tony Blakely, 2013. "Income and individual deprivation as predictors of health over time," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 58(4), pages 501-511, August.
    2. Meffert, Susan M. & McCulloch, Charles E. & Neylan, Thomas C. & Gandhi, Monica & Lund, Crick, 2015. "Increase of perceived frequency of neighborhood domestic violence is associated with increase of women's depression symptoms in a nationally representative longitudinal study in South Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 89-97.
    3. Scott Payne & Jeremy Yorgason & Jeffrey Dew, 2014. "Spending Today or Saving for Tomorrow: The Influence of Family Financial Socialization on Financial Preparation for Retirement," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 106-118, March.
    4. Kendzor, Darla E. & Reitzel, Lorraine R. & Mazas, Carlos A. & Cofta-Woerpel, Ludmila M. & Cao, Yumei & Ji, Lingyun & Costello, Tracy J. & Vidrine, Jennifer Irvin & Businelle, Michael S. & Li, Yisheng , 2012. "Individual- and area-level unemployment influence smoking cessation among African Americans participating in a randomized clinical trial," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(9), pages 1394-1401.
    5. Mickelson, Kristin D. & Demmings, Jessica L., 2009. "The impact of support network substitution on low-income women's health: Are minor children beneficial substitutes?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 80-88, January.


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