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Childhood adversity launches lifelong relationship and health disadvantage for black men
Date:2/26/2014

WASHINGTON, DC, February 24, 2014 Greater childhood adversity helps to explain why black men are less healthy than white men, and some of this effect appears to operate through childhood adversity's enduring influence on the relationships black men have as adults, according to a new study in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

"Our findings suggest that childhood adversity launches a lifelong process of relationship and health disadvantage for black men," said lead author Debra Umberson, a professor of sociology and a faculty associate in the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. "I was surprised at the power of childhood adversity to influence racial disparities in health for men via its detrimental impact on adult relationships."

Umberson said exposure and vulnerability to stress are the two primary ways childhood adversity negatively affects relationships in adulthood.

"Exposure to childhood adversity may cause stress and lead to a sequence of stressors over time that take a cumulative toll on relationships," Umberson said. "In addition, childhood adversity may trigger an enduring pattern of psychological and physiological vulnerability to stress that undermines relationships in adulthood. Past research, including some of my own, has shown that bad relationships often lead to worse physical health."

Titled, "Race, Gender, and Chains of Disadvantage: Childhood Adversity, Social Relationships, and Health," the study relies on data on black and white men and women from a nationally representative longitudinal survey of Americans aged 25 and older. Respondents were interviewed four times during a 15-year period and were asked about childhood adversity (e.g., family economic hardship; parents having marital problems; living with someone who was violent), stress in adulthood (e.g., stressful life events such as divorce or the death of a spouse, child, or parent; c
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Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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