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Physiological Stress Responses in Filipino-American Immigrant Nurses: The Effects of Residence Time, Life-Style, and Job Strain

Brown, Daniel E. PhD; James, Gary D. PhD


Objective The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between measures of Americanization (the adoption of American life-style and culture) and physiological measures of stress in Filipino-American immigrants.

Methods Ambulatory blood pressure monitors and timed urine collections were used to evaluate blood pressure and urinary catecholamine excretion across the work, home, and sleep daily settings among 31 healthy, premenopausal, immigrant Filipino-American women employed as nurses or nurse’s aides. Migration history and life-style were evaluated from questionnaire responses. Reported job strain, decision latitude, and psychological demand were obtained from the Job Content Questionnaire.

Results Immigrants who had lived longer in the United States had elevated norepinephrine levels in the work and home settings (

p < .05), higher diastolic blood pressure during sleep (p < .01), and lower dips in blood pressure during sleep (p < .05). Job strain measures were not related to blood pressure, catecholamine excretion rates, or residence time in the United States.

Conclusions The results suggest that indicators of stress increase as a function of time since immigration, although this result is not explained by self-reports of identification with Filipino or American life-style or by measures of job strain.

From the Department of Anthropology (D.E.B.), University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo, HI; and the Decker School of Nursing (G.D.J.), Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY.

Received for publication October 19, 1998;

revision received October 21, 1999.

Address reprint requests to: Daniel E. Brown, PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Hilo, 200 W. Kawili Street, Hilo, HI 96720-4091. Email:

Copyright © 2000 by American Psychosomatic Society
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