Little Rain Each Day

Psychological Stress & Health Disparities

  • Carlotta M. Arthur Smith College


It seems that nearly every day a new study is published that links psychological stress to poor health outcomes. Psychological stress has been found to cause immunosuppression, increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, delayed wound healing, and to contribute to the development of psychological disorders. Yet, the implications of psychological stress as it relates to health disparities are seldom addressed. Chronic stress is an important but understudied factor that interacts with culture, socioeconomic status, and other psychosocial factors to act not only directly on physiological systems, but also to shape and influence health-related behavior. Research indicates that psychological stress acts through multiple pathways to influence health. Likewise, psychological stress and its impact on vulnerable populations may be addressed and managed at multiple levels. We define stress, and briefly review the literature on psychological stress in health disparities. We briefly describe several models of how stress negatively impacts health generally, and the pathways through which is believed to impact the health of some vulnerable populations specifically. We suggest ways in which policymakers, health systems, organizations, communities, and individuals can begin to work to reduce psychological stress and stress-related health inequities.
How to Cite
Arthur, C. M. (2007). Little Rain Each Day: Psychological Stress & Health Disparities. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 5(SI), 58-67.