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The Impact of Life Stressors Associated With the COVID-19 Pandemic on Essential Workers of Color

Objective: Although essential workers of color in the United States have been notably at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, less is known about the impacts of associated life stressors within this population. Thus, the purpose of this study is to understand (a) the impact of life stressors among a sample of essential workers of color during the COVID-19 pandemic and (b) associations between life stressors and sociodemographic characteristics, work, mental health, substance use, and eating behaviors. Method: Essential workers of color (N=319) completed the Holms-Rahe Life Stress Inventory to examine whether any set of 43 life stress experiences occurred because of COVID-19. We used latent class analysis to examine patterns of clustering. Results: We identified three latent classes: (a) minimally impacted, (b) moderately impacted, and (c) widely impacted. Most of our sample reported being minimally impacted (53%) or moderately impacted (35%) by life events during the pandemic. However, participants clustered within the widely impacted pattern (11%) reported significantly more concerns with substance use, binge eating, and perceived stress. Conclusions: Findings highlight distinct patterns of life-stress impacts caused by COVID-19 among essential workers of color. Social workers must consider how to implement policies to reduce the systematic challenges faced by those who are most marginalized.