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Gender differences in relationships among stress, coping, and health risk behaviors in impoverished, minority populations


In this study, we examined gender differences among impoverished minority females (n = 205; 87% African-American, 13% Latina) and males (n = 203; 89% African-American, 11% Latino) in associations among latent variables representing stress, self-esteem, avoidant and active coping strategies, and health outcomes of depression, escapist drug use, and sexual risk behaviors. Among both men and women, drug use and depression were positively related to each other. A large and significant relationship between stress and sexual risk behaviors among women was not evidenced for men. In multiple group latent means comparison models, the women reported significantly more stress, depression, and avoidant coping styles than the men. In predictive path models, an avoidant coping style predicted escapist drug use among men whereas greater stress predicted escapist drug use among women. Greater stress, and lower self-esteem predicted depression in both groups. Greater stress and less active coping predicted more sexual risk behaviors for women. No predictor construct in this model significantly predicted more sexual risk behavior among the men. Gender-specific leverage points for AIDS-risk reduction interventions are discussed. © 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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