Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 117–132 | Cite as

Theories for Race and Gender Differences in Management of Social Identity-Related Stressors: a Systematic Review

  • Ganga S. BeyEmail author
  • Christine M. Ulbricht
  • Sharina D. Person


Sociodemographic group-specific strategies for stress management may contribute to racial and gender disparities in health outcomes in the USA. We aimed to systematically review theoretical and empirical investigations of factors influencing variation in response to and management of identity-related stress among black and white Americans. OvidPsychInfo and PubMed databases were searched to identify eligible studies. Criteria were participant age of ≥ 18 years, conducted in the US sampling black or white participants, and published in English in a peer-reviewed journal. The final sample included 167 articles. Theories suggesting social status inequities as the primary contributor to disparate strategies employed by black and white women and men to manage social identity-related stress were most frequently tested and supported. Studies disproportionally focused on how women and black persons cope as targets of prejudice and discrimination rather than on how management strategies of men or white persons are affected as perpetrators. Finally, there was theoretical support for an interactive effect of race and gender on stress management, but empirical evidence was lacking, particularly among black men, white women, and white men. The literature could be strengthened through the use of prospective cohorts and nationally representative samples, as well as study designs accounting for potential within-race and within-gender variation in the effects of social identity-related stressors on coping. With greater consistency in methodology, future empirical studies may yield additional information regarding group differences in stress management pertinent to clarifying mechanisms for the health consequences of exposure to social inequity among black and white women and men.


Identity-based stress Coping Gender differences Race differences Intersectionality 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 78 kb)
40615_2018_507_MOESM2_ESM.docx (16 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 88 kb)


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Quantitative Health SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

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