Stress in Detroit

DetroitAdults living in Detroit* mirror the general population of America in many key measurements for life satisfaction, health and levels of stress. Overall health levels are virtually the same between the two populations, as are rates of chronic illness and health conditions. Detroit’s population and adults nationwide both believe that managing stress is extremely or very important and some believe they are doing a very good job of managing it, but there is still a significant gap between the importance they place on managing stress and their success in doing so. Still, some differences do stand out, such as how they feel about their jobs and the economy and how stress impacts their physical health.

Perception of Stress and Its Sources

Adults living in Detroit are more likely to report dissatisfaction with their jobs and appear to be slightly more stressed about the economy than Americans overall.

  • A substantially greater number reported being dissatisfied with work (38 percent in Detroit vs. 25 percent nationally).

  • The economy (75 percent) tops the list for more people in Detroit as a major stressor than it does nationwide (67 percent). Despite overall economic improvements, it appears to be rebounding as a major source of stress for Detroit residents, after falling in significance for several years (79 percent in 2008, 72 percent in 2009 and 70 percent in 2010).

  • More than half of Detroit residents (59 percent) say that it is very important to manage stress, yet fewer than half (43 percent) report that they are doing an excellent/very good job at managing stress.

Stress and Well-Being

Detroit residents are considerably less likely than people nationwide to report having any physical symptoms of stress.

  • More people in Detroit report they do not suffer from any physical symptoms of stress (34 percent vs. 24 percent nationally).

  • In fact, findings suggest that the health of Detroit residents may slowly be improving. The number who report that their health is fair or poor has trended down since 2009 (23 percent in 2009, 19 percent in 2010 and 16 percent in 2011), while the number of those who report that their health is very good or excellent has gone up (38 percent in 2009, 40 percent in 2010 and 45 percent in 2011).

Detroit adults also report slightly higher levels of physical activity this year and slightly lower levels of stress.

  • Fifty-nine percent of adults in Detroit say they exercise at least a few times a week compared to 50 percent last year.

  • Among those who tried, more Detroit residents report having been successful in losing weight (41 percent vs. 30 percent nationally).

  • Looking at the past 4 years, personal stress levels are down (6.2 in 2008, 6.1 in 2009, 5.4 in 2010 and 5.2 in 2011 on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is little or no stress and 10 is a great deal of stress).

Managing Stress

People in Detroit are nearly twice as likely as their counterparts nationwide to say they lack a strategy for managing stress. Survey findings suggest that people in Detroit are also less likely to say that stress has a strong impact on their personal physical health. Some in Detroit do take action to help manage stress and are more likely to turn to yoga and less likely to turn to food than the nation overall.

  • Fifty-nine percent of adults in Detroit say they’re doing enough to manage stress (vs. 57 percent nationally).

  • While 12 percent of the general population reports using no strategies at all to manage stress, in Detroit the figure is 22 percent.

  • Detroit residents are more likely to use meditation or yoga (18 percent vs. 11 percent nationally) and are less likely to eat (17 percent vs. 27 percent nationally) to help manage stress. The top stress management techniques among Detroit residents are exercise or walking, listening to music, spending times with friends or family, reading and praying.

  • Residents of Detroit report that the most useful strategy they have for combating stress is creating a social support network (63 percent vs. 47 percent nationally).

  • Fewer Detroit residents (31 percent) than people nationwide (37 percent) believe that stress has a strong/very strong impact on their own physical health, while the majority (82 percent) believe that, in general, stress can affect physical health.

Barriers to Change

Stress remains enough of a problem for people of Detroit that residents point to being stressed as a reason for not making positive lifestyle changes.

  • One in 6 (15 percent) Detroit residents who desired to make a lifestyle change say they are too stressed to do so, up considerably from 4 percent in 2010.

  • Regarding barriers to exercising, Detroit residents who exercise once a week or less often are less likely to blame being too busy than their counterparts nationwide (19 percent in Detroit vs. 33 percent nationally).

  • However, they are more likely to report that someone has recommended they eat a healthier diet (42 percent) over the past 5 years than the population overall (35 percent).


* This report focuses only on the views of residents within the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area (2008 n=235; 2009 n=207; 2010 n=214; 2011 n=223) and the general population (2008 n=1,791; 2009 n=1,568; 2010 n=1,134; 2011 n=1,226).