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Ethn Dis. 2001 Spring-Summer;11(2):286-95.

Efficacy of racism-specific coping styles as predictors of cardiovascular functioning.

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Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48202, USA.



This study examined the relationship between racism-specific coping strategies and cardiovascular responses to an ethnically relevant speaking task.


Fifty-seven African-American females participated in a speaking task during which they discussed their experiences with inter-ethnic group racism. Blood pressure and heart rate responses were measured during a pre-speech, speech, and recovery period. Racism-specific coping strategies were assessed with both the Perceived Racism Scale (PRS) and the Ways of Coping Scale-Revised (WCS-R).


Multivariate regression analyses indicated that racism-specific coping strategies assessed via the PRS and WCS-R predicted blood pressure and heart rate changes. Passive coping strategies were generally associated with greater changes in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate during the pre-speech and speech periods, and with incomplete diastolic blood pressure recovery and heart rate recovery. Unexpectedly, the use of more active roping strategies was also associated with greater changes in diastolic blood pressure, and with incomplete heart rate recovery.


This study provides preliminary empirical evidence that racism-specific coping styles may contribute to blood pressure and heart rate variability in African-American females.

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