Anxiety is a pressing health concern, affecting 40 million adults in the United States every year. Interestingly, communities of color have lower rates of anxiety disorders relative to Non-Hispanic Whites, despite on average experiencing more lifetime adversity characteristic of members of marginalized groups, such as low socioeconomic status and discrimination. Research indicates that contact with one’s social network, particularly large, closely knit ones among Hispanics, are protective factors against anxiety. However, empirical investigations of racial/ethnic differences in the benefits of social networks on anxiety are lacking. Data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally representative sample of adults aged 51 and older in the United States, were used in this investigation. The 2010/2012 waves were used to include information pertaining to self-reported anxiety symptoms. Results from a weighted linear regression indicate that Non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics reported more anxiety symptoms relative to Non-Hispanic Whites after adjusting for age, sex, degree of education, and household wealth. Second, reporting more social contact with children and friends was related to less anxiety symptoms. Third, racial/ethnic differences in the effect of social networks on anxiety were found, in which time spent away from children was even more strongly related to anxiety among Hispanics relative to non-Hispanic Whites. Such results indicate that Hispanics may benefit more from increased social contact with their children relative to other racial/ethnic groups in protecting against anxiety, demonstrating the importance of nurturing social networks in order to reduce anxiety in this particularly vulnerable group.
Vargas Calderon, Melissa and Robinette, Jennifer, "Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Benefit of Social Networks on Anxiety Symptoms" (2021). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 467.
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