John Henryism Coping and Metabolic Syndrome Among Young Black Adults

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The aim of the study was to test the novel hypothesis that, among black Americans who used John Henryism coping, those from low socioeconomic status backgrounds would be more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.


This is an ancillary analysis of Strong African American Families Healthy Adult Program, a longitudinal cohort of 391 black youths and their caregivers. From ages 11 to 18 years, family socioeconomic status was assessed. At age 25 years, John Henryism was assessed, blood samples were drawn, and measurements were taken of blood pressure and waist circumference. Metabolic syndrome status was based on International Diabetes Federation guidelines.


A significant interaction emerged between family socioeconomic disadvantage and John Henryism coping in predicting metabolic syndrome diagnosis (odds ratio = 1.047, 95% confidence interval = 1.004–1.091). Participants who were high in John Henryism coping were more likely to display metabolic syndrome if they were from disadvantaged backgrounds (predicted prevalence of 26.7%) than if they were from more privileged backgrounds (predicted prevalence of 9.6%).


These patterns illustrate for the first time that John Henryism coping can undermine cardiometabolic health among black youths from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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