January 4, 2019

The Association Between Perceived Stress and Hypertension Among Asian Americans: Does Social Support and Social Network Make a Difference?

By Miguel Valdez Soto

Abstract

Prior research suggests that stress plays role in the etiology and progression of hypertension. To lend a more accurate depiction of the underlying mechanisms between stress and hypertension, this study aims to assess the associations between perceived stress and hypertension across varying levels of social support and social network among Asian Americans. We conducted a cross-sectional study using data on 530 Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese Americans recruited from a liver cancer prevention program in the Washington D.C.—Baltimore metropolitan area. Hypertension prevalence was 29.1%. Individuals with high perceived stress were 61% more likely to have hypertension compared to those with low levels of perceived stress (odds ratio 1.61, 95% confidence interval 1.15, 2.46). There was no evidence that social support and social network acted as effect modifiers. Social support had a direct beneficial effect on hypertension, irrespective of whether individuals were under stress. The relationship between perceived stress and hypertension was modified by gender and ethnicity whereby a significant positive association was only observed among male or Chinese participants. Our study highlights the importance of understanding the associations between stress, social support, and hypertension among Asian American subgroups. Findings from the study can be used to develop future stress management interventions, and incorporate culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies into community outreach and education to decrease hypertension risk within the Asian population.

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