Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Research Advisor

Ann K. Cashion, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN


Patricia D. Cunningham, DNS Joyce C. Graff, Ph. D Donna S. Husch, Ph. D Mona N. Wicks, Ph. D


African Americans, blood pressure, disengagement, emotion-focused coping, engagement, problem-focused coping


Objective: To explore the relationship between coping style and blood pressure in African American men and women.

Participants: This descriptive correlational study consisted of 4354 adult men (n = 1557) and women (n = 2797) enrolled in the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) who completed the Coping Strategies Short-Form (CSI-SF).

Results: Coping style mean score comparisons showed that JHS participants used engagement coping styles more than disengagement coping styles. The PFE subscale had the highest mean score (15.10 ± 2.63) with 75% of the PFE scores under 17.00 and 75% of EFE scores were below 15.00. Comparatively, 75% of PFD scores fell below 13.00 and EFD fell below 10.00 respectively. Women had slightly higher scores than men on most subscales problem-focused engagement; problem-focused disengagement; emotion-focused engagement and, emotion-focused disengagement. Women had significantly higher coping scores than men on five of the six coping scales. Men had significantly higher scores than women on PFE. Further results revealed moderately strong correlations among coping styles (i.e. PFE, PFD, EFE, and EFD) such as significant positive correlations between SBP and PFD (r = 0.042, p < 0.05) and significant negative correlations between DBP and EFE (r = -0.041, p < 0.05). Women tended toward higher disengagement scores while men tended to have higher PFE scores. PFD (t = 74.9180, p = 0.0071) and EFD (t = 1.9642, p = 0.0495), both disengagement subscales, mediated the association between gender and systolic blood pressure. Two minor subscales and two major subscales were not significant mediators of systolic blood pressure. However, for diastolic blood pressure, only the minor subscale, EFE (t = 2.5707, p = 0.0102) significantly mediated the relation of gender and diastolic blood pressure.

Discussion: Findings from the current study indicated that coping style does affect blood pressure and that there are significant gender-differences in coping style among African American men and women enrolled in the Jackson Heart Study.