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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Discrimination, Stress Probed in the Wake of Ferguson

African-American men who reported discrimination coped with the resulting stress in both healthy and unhealthy ways, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Researchers conducted focus groups of 26 African-American men from the St. Louis area in 2014, research that coincidentally occurred in the days before and immediately following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis.

“Racial discrimination and structural racism emerged as pervasive stressors among these men,” wrote Dr. Darrell L. Hudson, assistant professor at the Brown School and the study’s first author. They reported their experiences with discrimination in the workplace, neighborhoods and the criminal justice system.

Stress is considered a major factor in health disparities, and the men described how they coped with it, ranging from exercise, religion and family support to drinking, smoking and drug use. As the men aged, several abandoned substance abuse, leading Dr. Hudson to call for age-tailored intervention strategies.

“The findings from this study revealed a unique snapshot of what is occurring in the Ferguson region,” Dr. Hudson wrote.  “These experiences could pose a substantial threat to the health and well-being of African-American men in similar settings across the country.”

The study was published in The Journal of Men’s Studies.

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