Based on prior research and theory, the authors constructed a multidimensional model of stress in African American women comprised of race-related, gender-related, and generic stress. Exposure to and appraisal of these three types of stress were combined into a higher-order global stress factor. Using structural equation modeling, the fit of this stress factor and its ability to predict distress symptoms were examined in 189 socioeconomically diverse African American women aged 21 to 78. Results support the multidimensional conceptualization and operationalization of stress. Race-related, gender-related, and generic stress contributed equally to the global stress factor, and global stress predicted a significant amount of variance in distress symptoms and intensity. This model exhibited better fit than a model without a global stress factor, in which each stress component predicted distress directly. Furthermore, race-related, gender-related, and generic stress did not contribute to distress beyond their representation in the global stress factor. These findings illustrate that stress related to central elements of identity, namely race and gender, cohere with generic stress to define the stress experience of African American women.
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