William Dressler


Overview


William Dressler (born 1951) is a medical and biocultural anthropologist whose interests include cultural theory, community studies, research methods, and looking at the relationship between culture and disease risk. His earlier work consists of adapting models of psychosocial stress to examine associations between social and cultural factors and risks of chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease and dysthymic disorder. Currently, Dressler’s work focuses on concepts and methods that examine the health effects of culture, cultural knowledge, and individuals’ match with culturally-defined goals and aspirations. In particular, he has developed the theory of cultural consonance, building on earlier work of cultural consensus theory. In his work, Dressler has made use of cultural constructivism, social structural theory, and the development of methods that link cultural, individual, and biological factors. Additionally, his work addresses the issue of social inequality and health, where he has examined the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) on the mental and physical health of individuals in Brazil as well as compared the effects of social class and skin color on blood pressure of individuals living in Brazil and Southern United States.[1] . [2] .
He has done research in diverse setting that include the Southeast United States, Brazil, Great Britain, the West Indies, Mexico, and Samoa.[3] .


Research & Work


Dressler has been a member of the University of Alabama, Tuscoloosa faculty since 1978 and is considered a leading authority in social epidemiology. He is internationally known for his work looking at social and dietary factors associated with risk for cardiovascular disease. Likewise, he is noted for his excellence in research methodology, specifically pertaining to his work looking at new techniques for “operationalizing the concept of psychosocial stress”.[4] . Dressler’s research collaborations with colleagues from various disciplines such as sociology, social work, medicine, and anthropology is a testament to the practicality of his work. Dressler received funding from the National Science Foundation (2001-2005) to conduct research with colleagues in Brazil at the University of São Paulo-Ribeirão Preto, looking at issues of culture and health.

William Dressler is known for his research examining the relationship between social status and health, using the concept of cultural consonance. This is a model developed by Dressler and colleagues to assess the approximation of an individual’s behavior compared to the guiding awareness of his or her culture.[5] Carrying out studies in Brazil and the Southeast United States, Dressler found cultural consonance in lifestyle and social support to be associated with health outcomes such as blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stress.[6] [7] [8] For example, in an African American community in the rural South, Dressler finds that cultural consonance in lifestyle is more strongly associated with hypertension and smoking than socioeconomic status. These findings suggest that individuals in African American communities, inability to live within the means of guided cultural norms can result in risk of coronary heart disease.[9]

Likewise, in Brazil, Dressler examined the association between cultural consonance and arterial blood pressure as a replication and expansion of an earlier study (10 years before) in the same urban Brazilian neighborhoods. With a more extensive cultural domain analysis and more sensitive measures of cultural consonance, Dressler and colleagues were able to obtain combined and interactive effects of cultural consonance in lifestyle and social support on arterial blood pressure.[10] Their findings were replicated from the previous study in 1991, with an overall higher cultural consonance being associated with lower arterial blood pressure. However, two differences emerged in terms of level of blood pressure and category of cultural consonance. Blood pressure was not as high in the lowest category of cultural consonance in 2001 as in 1991, and the cultural consonance variables in 2001 had a lower variance than the variables in 1991. These differences were explained in terms of change in socioeconomic status over a 10 year period.[11]


Biography

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William Dressler was born on November 3, 1951 in Ida Grove, Iowa. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree (Honors) in Anthropology from Grinnell
College in Grinnell, Iowa in 1973. In 1978, he obtained his doctoral degree in Anthropology from University of Connecticut, Storrs. During the course
of his career, Dressler worked as a member of the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa faculty in the College of Community Health Sciences (School
of Medicine) as an Assistant Professor of Behavior Science and later as an Associate Professor of Behavioral and Community Medicine, until 1996.
From 1996 to 2002, he held joint professor appointments in the Departments of Anthropology and Social Work at the University of Alabama. Currently,
he works as a professor in the Department of Anthropology. Dressler also served as an honorary research fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Exeter, Devon, England from 1988-1994.

Dressler has been an active member of the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) and has served as a member of the Executive Board (1998-1991) as well as in the office of President (1998-2002). He has served as the Associate Editor of the journal Human Organization (1986-1988) and also as a member of several editorial boards including, Ethnicity and Disease (1991-1996), Santé, Culture, Health (1988-1996), and the American Anthropologist (2006-2008). Currently, he serves as a member of the editorial boards of Medical Anthropology Quarterly; Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry; Paidéia: Estudos em Psicologia e Educacão; Annals of Human Biology; and the Rutgers University Press Series in Medical Anthropology.

Dressler has received numerous awards for his research. In 1979, he won the Stirling Award of the Society of Psychological Anthropology. From 1984-1986, he was named the University Research Fellow of The University of Alabama and in 1993 was elected as a member of the University of Alabama Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Dressler
was honored as the John P. Kirscht Distinguished Lecturer in 2002 by the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, and in 2002 was also named the Distinguished Lecturer, Graduate Student Invitational Lecturer at the University of Kentucky, College of Medicine. Additionally in 2002, Dressler received the University of Alabama’s Distinguished Faculty Award and was named a Faculty Fellow of the College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Board in 2005.


Major Publications


Books and Monographs

Dressler, William W.
1991 Stress and Adaptation in the Context of Culture: Depression in a Southern Black
Community. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Poggie, John J, Billie R. Dewalt, and William W. Dressler, eds.
1992 Anthropological Research: Process and Application. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Journal Publications

Dressler, William W.
1991 Social Class, Skin Color, and Arterial Blood Pressure in Two Societies. Ethnicity and Disease 1:60-77.

Dressler, William W.
1995 Modeling Biocultural Interactions in Anthropological Research: An Example from Research on Stress and Cardiovascular Disease.
Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 38:27-56.

Dressler, William W, Gerald A.C. Grell and Fernando E. Viteri.
1995 Intracultural Diversity and the Sociocultural Correlates of Blood Pressure: A Jamaican Example. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 9:291-313.

Dressler, William W.
1996 Using Cultural Consensus Analysis to Develop a Measurement: A Brazilian Example. Cultural Anthropology Methods 8:6-8.

Dressler, William W, Mauro C. Balieiro, and Jose Ernesto Dos Santos.
1998 Culture, Socioeconomic Status and Physical and Mental Health in Brazil. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 12:424-446.

Dressler, William W and James R. Bindon.
2000 The Health Consequences of Cultural Consonance: Cultural Dimensions of Lifestyle, Social Support and Arterial Blood Pressure in an African American community.
American Anthropologist 102:244-260.

Dressler, William W, Mauro C. Balieiro and José Ernesto dos Santos.
2002 Cultural Consonance and Psychological Distress. Paidéia: Cadernos de Psicologia e Educação 12:5-18.

Dressler, William W, Camila D. Borges, Mauro C. Balieiro, and José Ernesto Dos Santos.
2005 Measuring Cultural Consonance: Examples with Special Reference to Measurement Theory in Anthropology. Field Methods 17:331-355.

Dressler, William W, Mauro C. Balieiro, Rosane P. Ribeiro, and José Ernesto dos Santos.
2007 A Prospective Study of Cultural Consonance and Depressive Symptoms in Urban Brazil. Social Science and Medicine 65:2058-2069.

Collins, Cyleste and William W. Dressler.
2008 Cultural Consensus and Cultural Diversity: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Human Service Providers' Models of Domestic Violence.
Journal of Mixed Methods Research 2:362-387.

Dressler, William W.
2010 Social Inequality and Health: A Commentary. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 24:549-554.

Balieiro, Mauro C, Manoel A. dos Santos, José Ernesto dos Santos, and William W. Dressler.
2011 Does Perceived Stress Mediate the Effect of Cultural Consonance on Depression? Transcultural Psychiatry 47: (in press).

Book chapters

Dressler, William W.
1993 Social and Cultural Dimensions of Hypertension in Blacks: Underlying Mechanisms. In Pathophysiology of Hypertension in Blacks.
Janice G. Douglas and John C.S. Fray, eds. Pp. 69-89. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dressler, William W.
2000 Stress in Indigenous Societies. In Encyclopedia of Stress, Vol. 2. George Fink, ed. Pp. 558-564. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Dressler, William W.
2004 Culture, Stress and Cardiovascular Disease. In The Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology. Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember, eds. Pp. 328-334.
New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.

Dressler, William W.
2006 Cultural Dimensions of the Stress Process: Measurement Issues in Fieldwork. In Measuring Stress in Humans. Gillian Ice and Gary D. James, eds. Pp. 27-59
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dressler, William W.
2007 Cultural Consonance. In Textbook of Cultural Psychiatry. Dinesh Bhugra and Kameldeep Bhui, eds. Pp. 179- 190. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dressler, William W.
2009 Explaining Health Inequalities. In Health, Risk and Adversity. Catherine Panter-Brick and Agustín Fuentes, eds. Pp. 175-184. New York: Bergahn Books.

Dressler, William W.
2010 Medical anthropology. In Handbook of Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine. Jerry Suls, Katrina Davidson and Robert Kaplan, eds. Pp. 277-289.
New York: Guilford Press.


Online Resources

Bill Dressler website at University of Alabama: http://www.as.ua.edu/ant/name/Bill/Dressler/

University of Alabama, Department of Anthropology Newsletter – Highlighting Bill Dressler’s research in Brazil: http://www.as.ua.edu/ant/newsletter/Newsletter8-2.pdf

National Science Foundation funding for research in Brazil (2001-2005)


Further Reading


Dressler, William W.
2004 Culture and the Risk of Disease. British Medical Bulletin 69:21-31.

Dressler, William W.
2007 Stress in Indigenous Societies. In Encyclopedia of Stress. 2nd edition. George Fink, ed. Pp. 511-516 Oxford: Academic Press.

Dressler William W, Mauro C. Balieiro, Rosane P. Ribeiro and José Ernesto dos Santos.
2009 Cultural Consonance, a 5HT2A Receptor Polymorphism, and Depressive Symptoms: A Longitudinal Study of Gene X Culture Interaction in Urban Brazil.
American Journal of Human Biology 21: 91-97.

Dressler William W.
2011 Culture and the Stress Process (in press). In A Companion to Medical Anthropology. Merrill Singer and Pamela Erickson, eds. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.


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References


  1. ^ Dressler, William W, Mauro C. Balieiro, and Jose Ernesto Dos Santos. (1998). Culture, Socioeconomic Status and Physical and Mental Health in Brazil. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 12:424-446
  2. ^ Dressler, William W. (1991). Social Class, Skin Color, and Arterial Blood Pressure in Two Societies. Ethnicity and Disease 1:60-77
  3. ^ Bill Dressler. (2009) The University of Alabama, Department of Anthropology. http://www.as.ua.edu/ant/name/Bill/Dressler/, accessed April 5, 2012
  4. ^ Dowling, Suzanne(2002) Dr. William Dressler names 2002 Burnum award winner. Dialog Online, UA faculty and staff news http://www.graduate.ua.edu/news/2002/02/dressler20020218.html, accessed April 5, 2011.
  5. ^ Dressler, William W. (2007) Cultural Consonance. Textbook of Cultural Psychiatry. Dinesh Bhugra and Kameldeep Bhui, eds. Pp. 179- 190. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ Dressler, William W and James R. Bindon.(2000) The Health Consequences of Cultural Consonance: Cultural Dimensions of Lifestyle, Social Support, and Arterial Blood Pressure in and African American Community. American Anthropologist 102(2):244-260.
  7. ^ Dressler, W.W., M.C. Balieiro, R.P. Ribeiro, and J.E. dos Santos (2005) Cultural consonance and arterial blood pressure in urban Brazil. Social Science and Medicine 61:527-540.
  8. ^ Dressler, W.W., M.C. Balieiro, R.P. Ribeiro, and J.E. dos Santos (2007) Cultural consonance and psychological distress: Examining the associations in multiple cultural domains. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 31:195-224.
  9. ^ Dressler, W.W., Bindon, J.R., and Neggers Y.H.(1998) Culture, Socioeconomic Status, and Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors in an African American Community. Journal of Behavioral Medicine 21(6): 527-544.
  10. ^ Dressler, W.W., M.C. Balieiro, R.P. Ribeiro, and J.E. dos Santos (2005) Cultural consonance and arterial blood pressure in urban Brazil. Social Science and Medicine 61: 527-540.
  11. ^ Dressler, W.W., M.C. Balieiro, R.P. Ribeiro, and J.E. dos Santos (2005) Cultural consonance and arterial blood pressure in urban Brazil. Social Science and Medicine 61: 527-540.