Effects of racist provocation and social support on cardiovascular reactivity in african american women

Maya Dominguez McNeilly, Elwood L. Robinson, Norman B. Anderson, Carl F. Pieper, Akbar Shah, Paul S. Toth, Pamela Martin, Dreama Jackson, Terrence D. Saulter, Cynthia White, Magaratha Kuchibatla, Shirley M. Collado, William Gerin

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74 Scopus citations


It has been speculated that exposure to the chronic stress of racism contributes to the high rates of hypertension among African Americans. Social support may buffer the effects of stress on cardiovascular (CV) health by attenuating stress-induced CV responses that have been linked to hypertension. In this study we investigated the effects of racism and social support on CV reactivity in African American women. Participants showed greater increases in CV and emotional responses while responding and listening to racist provocation. Augmented blood pressure (BP) persisted through recovery following racial stress. Participants receiving no support showed the greatest increases in anger during racist provocation. No significant effects were seen for support on CV reactivity. These results provide some of the first evidence that interactive confrontation with racism elicits significant increases in CV reactivity and emotional distress. Furthermore, individuals receiving less support may be at greater risk for the potentially health-damaging effects of racial stress. These findings may have significant implications for the health of African Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-338
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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