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National Survey Reveals Hispanics Engage in Healthy Behaviors to Manage Stress More Than General Population

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A national survey released today reveals that Hispanics engage in healthy behaviors to manage stress, such as exercising and seeking support from family and friends, more than the general U.S. population, but that stress is still a major health concern for this group. While Hispanics cite many sources of stress in their lives, the leading source of stress -- particularly for Hispanic women -- is concern for the health of family members. Similar to others in the United States, money and work are also significant sources of stress for Hispanics.

The survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) looked at how people deal with stress and its effect on mind/body health across racial and ethnic groups. The survey was released in partnership with the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. The survey was translated into Spanish, and Hispanic respondents could choose whether to take the survey in Spanish or English.

Healthy Behaviors to Manage Stress

Survey findings show that most Hispanics report spending time with family and friends (56 percent were very likely) to manage stress and 44 percent of Hispanics say they are very likely to use exercise as a way to reduce stress. Hispanics, as a group, rely less on unhealthy behaviors like smoking (8 percent) to manage stress when compared to the general population (14 percent).

"Stress is unavoidable. The key is how effectively people deal with stress," says Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., executive director for professional practice, APA. "Exercising and seeking support from family and friends are good examples of healthy ways to manage stress. People who are not taking proactive actions to manage stress or who are dealing with stress in unhealthy ways like smoking or eating can actually cause more health problems for themselves which leads to increased stress in the long run."

While Hispanics are more likely to report engaging in positive behaviors to manage stress, these behaviors often include sedentary practices such as listening to music (51 percent), reading (34 percent) and watching television (21 percent).

Hispanic Women as Family Health Managers More Stressed Than Men

According to national survey results released earlier this year by APA and NWHRC which looked at how stress affects the general population, it was reported that stress is higher among family health care decision makers. This is also true of Hispanics -- among Hispanics who say they make household health care decisions for their family, 61 percent report feeling concerned about the level of stress in their own lives, versus 48 percent of Hispanics who share the decisions with a spouse or partner.

The health care manager's burden is disproportionately felt by Hispanic women. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of Hispanic women say they make the health care decisions in their family versus one-third of Hispanic men and slightly more than half of the general public (57 percent).

"Without health insurance or access to care, many Hispanic women find the stresses of being a care provider are compounded. And even when they do have health insurance they may not have access to culturally or linguistically proficient services that can deliver the kind of quality care they need for themselves and their loved ones," says Dr. Jane L. Delgado, president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health.

Hispanic women report many more health-related sources of stress in their lives than the general public, citing the health of loved ones as a "very significant" source of stress. More than a third (35 percent) of Hispanic women call the health problems affecting their spouse, partner or children a very significant source of stress (versus 24 percent of the general public), and 36 percent call health problems affecting their parents or other family members a very significant source of stress (versus 23 percent of the general public).

"So often, women are sandwiched between taking care of their children's health care needs and those of a spouse or aging parent," said Shirley Lozano Nelson, M.S.W., minority health outreach coordinator for the National Women's Health Resource Center. "This is especially true in the family-centric Hispanic community. Unfortunately, the burden of being the health care manager of their family is compounded for Hispanic women because those in the family they may turn to for help with alleviating stress might be the same family members that are causing the elevated stress levels."

Gender Differences and Stress Among Hispanics

Interestingly, Hispanic men also find family health concerns stressful and report this as a source of stress more often than the general public. One third (32 percent) of Hispanic men (compared to 23 percent of the general population) report the health of their parents as a very significant source of stress. 26 percent of Hispanic men, compared to 24 percent of the general population, mention the health of their immediate families as a very significant sources of stress. Hispanics report being concerned about stress more often than the general public (54 percent versus 47 percent).

Hispanic men and women cite differing sources of stress. Most Hispanic men tend to report that their stress comes from work (57 percent versus 28 percent who report it comes from home).

Hispanic women, on the other hand, are equally apt to say that most of their stress comes from home and work (42 percent versus 39 percent who say it comes from work).

Symptoms of stress vary between men and women in the Hispanic community. Stressed Hispanic women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of nervousness or headaches. Hispanic men and women report symptoms like irritability, trouble sleeping and muscular tension.

Access to Mental Health Care

Survey findings showed that more than a fifth (22 percent) of Hispanics are open to seeking professional mental health care, compared to just 15 percent of the general population. Though they are amenable to seeking treatment, many lack coverage for professional help. Only 41 percent of Hispanics with health insurance say they have mental health coverage, more than 20 percent less than that of the general population.

Relatively few Hispanics reported having access to mental health care. Only 41 percent of Hispanics say they have health insurance that covers mental health care, compared to 65 percent of whites and 63 percent of African- Americans. More than one-third (39 percent) of Hispanics report being uninsured.

"It is encouraging to learn that Hispanics are amenable to seeking professional sources of support to manage their mental heath needs," added Dr. Delgado. "Stress is an important health care issue yet access to affordable services that meet cultural and language needs continues to be a barrier for Hispanics."

Stress Affects Mind/Body Health

Like the general population, stress impacts Hispanics' health. Nearly one fifth (17 percent) of Hispanics concerned about stress have been diagnosed with obesity versus just 6 percent of those not concerned about stress. Hispanics concerned about stress are also more likely to report being diagnosed with anxiety or depression than those not concerned about stress (25 percent versus 13 percent).

Hispanics feel the effects of stress in both body and mind. Hispanics report many stress symptoms acting simultaneously upon them, more so than other groups. Among the most commonly reported symptoms are:

* Having trouble sleeping (51 percent) * Feeling nervous or sad (49 percent) * Feeling irritable or angry (42 percent) * Headaches (47 percent) Causes of Stress

Hispanics report many sources of stress, yet in comparison to the general public, which reports work and money as leading stressors, Hispanics say stress is most often related to concerns about family health.

Leading Sources of Stress: * 34 percent say health problems affecting parents or other family members. * 31 percent say health of immediate family (spouse, partner or children). * 28 percent say health concerns. * 28 percent say money. * 27 percent say personal safety. * 25 percent say work. * 24 percent say children. * 19 percent say nightly news or state of the world today.

Take the Stress Smarts Quiz and learn more about stress and mind/body health, including tips for managing stress, at, and

This random-digit-dial telephone survey was designed and administered by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. The survey reached 2,152 adults, 18 years or older. The base sample of 1,600 adults was supplemented with an over sample of 552 Hispanics and African Americans. In total, the survey reached 434 Hispanics. The data were weighted by gender, age, race, income, education, marital status and region to ensure an accurate reflection of the population. The sample size with these weights applied is 1,600. The survey was conducted January 12-24, 2006, and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.1 percentage points.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, a profession and a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

The National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) is the leading independent health information source for women. The nonprofit organization develops and distributes up-to-date and objective women's health information based on the latest advances in medical research and practice. NWHRC believes all women should have access to the most trusted and reliable health information.

The mission of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (the Alliance) is to improve the health and well-being of Hispanics. Founded in 1973, the Alliance is the nation's oldest and largest network of Hispanic health and human service providers. Alliance members deliver quality services to more than 14 million people annually. As the nation's action forum for Hispanic health and well-being, the programs of the Alliance strive to inform and mobilize consumers; support health care providers in the delivery of quality care; promote appropriate use of technology; improve the science base for accurate decision-making; and promote philanthropy among Hispanic communities. American Psychological Association

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Source: PR Newswire

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