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Daily hassles and chronic strains: a hierarchy of stressors?

Social Science & Medicine (1982)

Adult, Humans, India, Male, Poverty, Psychophysiologic Disorders, epidemiology, etiology, psychology, Social Support, Socioeconomic Factors, Stress, Psychological, complications, Urban Population

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      Among 105 poor, male heads of household in an urban center of India, common daily hassles were similar to those experienced by individuals from economically advantaged, western countries. However, we did not replicate the correlation between hassle frequency and mental health problems that has been previously found in a middle-class, western sample. In contrast to daily hassles, which include low-intensity, relatively discrete stressors (e.g. disagreement with spouse, missing a bus), chronic strains include ongoing social and environmental conditions that represent high-intensity stressors (e.g. substandard housing, inadequate access to water) that threaten survival. We found that chronic strains were associated with greater levels of psychosomatic symptomatology, as well as lower perceived social support. Furthermore, the correlation between chronic strains and psychosomatic symptoms increased when the effects of income were statistically controlled, suggesting that income attenuates the effects of chronic strains and that chronic strains affect symptoms independent of income. In sum, chronic strains may be a more valid and potent stressor than daily hassles in poor, urban populations in developing countries.

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