Socioeconomic status, John Henryism, and hypertension in blacks and whites.
The joint influence of socioeconomic status and John Henryism on risk for elevated blood pressure was examined in a biracial, community sample of 820 adults, aged 21-50 years, who resided in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, and were interviewed in 1983. John Henryism refers to a strong personality predisposition to cope actively with psychosocial environmental stressors. In keeping with an earlier finding for black men, it was hypothesized that the inverse association between socioeconomic status and blood pressure would be stronger for persons who scored high on John Henryism than for persons who scored low. Using race-specific definitions of socioeconomic status, the study found support for the hypothesis among blacks. At low levels of John Henryism, socioeconomic status differences in hypertension prevalence were small (1.6%), whereas at high levels of John Henryism, low socioeconomic status blacks were nearly three times as likely to be hypertensive as higher status blacks (31.4% vs. 11.5%, p = 0.02 for the socioeconomic status X John Henryism interaction term). The findings for systolic and diastolic blood pressures were in a similar direction but did not reach statistical significance. The study hypothesis was not supported among whites. Analyses of the correlates of John Henryism as well as the blood pressure findings are discussed in terms of the different socioeconomic circumstances that characterize the lives of blacks and whites in this rural, southern community.
James, SA; Strogatz, DS; Wing, SB; Ramsey, DL
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