The influence of race and gender on recovery to challenge

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Patrice G. Saab - Committee Chair


Several studies have examined racial and gender differences in cardiovascular responses to stress. However, systematic studies of racial and gender differences in recovery are rare. The present study examined race and gender recovery responses to two stressors in a sample of 154 college students (34 Black men, 38 Black women, 44 White men, and 38 White women). Based on reported stressor-induced differences, it was hypothesized that Blacks would show slower recovery to the cold pressor task while Whites would show slower recovery to the speech task. It was expected that men, relative to women, would take longer to recover on hemodynamic parameters following both tasks. Subjects were monitored using impedance derived measures of hemodynamic blood flow, systolic time intervals, blood pressure and heart rate during baseline, tasks, and the 30 minute rest periods following the evaluated speech stressor and the cold pressor test.Recovery was operationalized as the time required for the recovery parameters to reach baseline levels. Results indicate that at least 20 minutes are needed in multiple task protocols for recovery to occur in at least 90% of subjects. Furthermore, time to recovery differed as a function of stressor and group. Recovery to the speech stressor was characterized by gender differences in both SBP and DBP, and a race by gender interaction for TPR (p's $<$.05). For cold pressor test recovery, gender differences for were noted in HI and DBP, and racial differences were seen in DBP and ACI responses. Race by gender interactions were noted in SBP, Q, PEP, and the PEP/LVET ratio to the cold pressor.These findings underscore the utility or evaluating the rate or recovery when studying groups that differ in cardiovascular disease risk. The prognostic significance of the group differences in recovery remain to be clarified. Possible mechanisms underlying the observed race and/or gender differences in recovery will be discussed. Furthermore, since stress-induced cardiovascular responses do not immediately recover with the removal of the stressor, these results indicate that it is essential to design studies with adequate intertask intervals to control for potential carry-over effects among tasks.


Black Studies; Psychology, Social; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies; Psychology, Physiological

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