African Americans, cardiovascular diseases, middle aged, participatory research, psychological, stress



  1. Jones, Holly J. PhD, RN, CFNP
  2. Norwood, Carolette R. PhD
  3. Bankston, Karen PhD, MSN, FACHE
  4. Bakas, Tamilyn PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN


Background: Midlife black women are at a high risk for cardiovascular disease and experience higher morbidity and mortality rates. Chronic life stress contributes to the existent cardiovascular-related disparities for midlife black women.


Objectives: The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe stress reduction strategies relevant to midlife black women, identify barriers, and generate ideas for the development of a stress reduction wellness intervention for midlife black women.


Methods: A community advisory board consisting of 11 midlife black women from the Midwest was established and charged with exploring life stress and stress-related issues for women like themselves. The community advisory board was led through a series of focus group discussions using open-ended questions focused on stress reduction strategies used by midlife black women, what kept them from incorporating stress reduction strategies into their daily routines, and what would be helpful in a stress reduction routine. Discussions were audiotaped, transcribed, coded, and analyzed using content analysis.


Results: Stress reduction strategies identified included exercise, faith and prayer, self-care, sisterhood, volunteerism, and mindfulness. Barriers to adopting stress reduction behaviors included time, finances, physical limitations, health status, health insurance, and guilt. Suggested modes of delivery for an intervention included informative lectures and coaching, demonstration, team sessions, social media, and continued access.


Conclusions: Findings from this study were consistent with those from a preliminary study focused on midlife black women from the West Coast. Recommendations will inform development of a stress reduction wellness intervention for midlife black women.