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Anxiety Stress Coping. 2012 May;25(3):239-58. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2011.583347. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

Predictors of responses to stress among families coping with poverty-related stress.

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Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


This study tested how poverty-related stress (PRS), psychological distress, and responses to stress predicted future effortful coping and involuntary stress responses one year later. In addition, we explored age, sex, ethnicity, and parental influences on responses to stress over time. Hierarchical linear modeling analyses conducted with 98 low-income families (300 family members: 136 adults, 82 school-aged children, 82 adolescents) revealed that primary control coping, secondary control coping, disengagement, involuntary engagement, and involuntary disengagement each significantly predicted future use of that response. Primary and secondary control coping also predicted less maladaptive future responses to stress, while involuntary responses to stress undermined the development of adaptive responding. Age, sex, and interactions among PRS and prior coping were also found to predict certain responses to stress. In addition, child subgroup analyses demonstrate the importance of parental modeling of coping and involuntary stress responses, and warmth/nurturance and monitoring practices. Results are discussed with regard to the implications for preventive interventions with families in poverty.

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