Perceived Sources of Stress and Resilience in Men in an African American Community


Background: Little is known about the perceived causes of stress and what strategies African American men use to promote resiliency. Participatory research approaches are recommended as an approach to engage minority communities. A key goal of participatory research is to shift the locus of control to community partners.

Objective: To understand perceived sources of stress and tools used to promote resiliency in African American men in South Los Angeles.

Methods: Our study utilized a community-partnered participatory research approach to collect and analyze open-ended responses from 295 African American men recruited at a local, cultural festival in Los Angeles using thematic analysis and the Levels of Racism framework.

Results: Almost all men (93.2%) reported stress. Of those reporting stress, 60.8% reported finances and money and 43.2% reported racism as a specific cause. More than 60% (63.4%) reported that they perceived available sources of help to deal with stress. Of those noting a specific source of help for stress (n = 76), 42.1% identified religious faith. Almost all of participants (92.1%) mentioned specific sources of resiliency such as religion and family.

Conclusions: Stress owing to psychosocial factors such as finances and racism are common among African American men. But, at the same time, most men found support for resiliency to ameliorate stress in religion and family. Future work to engage African American men around alleviating stress and supporting resiliency should both take into account the perceived causes of stress and incorporate culturally appropriate sources of resiliency support.