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Partner Interactions Are Associated With Reduced Blood Pressure in the Natural Environment: Ambulatory Monitoring Evidence From a Healthy, Multiethnic Adult Sample

Gump, Brooks B. PhD, MPH; Polk, Deborah E. PhD; Kamarck, Thomas W. PhD, and; Shiffman, Saul M. PhD

Original Articles

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the effects of partner interactions on ambulatory blood pressure in a sample of 120 healthy adults who were monitored over a 6-day period.

Methods: After each blood pressure measurement, participants rated characteristics of ongoing social interactions, along with emotional activation, physical activity, talking, posture, and other covariates, with computer-assisted self-report assessments.

Results: Using multilevel modeling, we showed that blood pressure was significantly lower during social interactions with one’s partner relative to social interactions with any other person and relative to periods of not interacting. Interactions with partners also were characterized by significantly less talking and emotional activation and more intimacy and perceived emotional support; however, these differences did not mediate the partner effect on blood pressure. In addition, the relative benefits of interacting with a partner were not moderated by relationship quality, gender, or race.

Conclusions: The effects of social situations on ambulatory blood pressure may represent one pathway through which social relationships affect cardiovascular health.

From the Department of Psychology (B.B.G.), State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, New York; and the Department of Psychology (D.E.P, T.W.K, S.M.S), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Address reprint requests to: Brooks B. Gump, PhD, Department of Psychology, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126. Email: gump@oswego.edu

Received for publication June 8, 2000; revision received October 18, 2000.

Copyright © 2001 by American Psychosomatic Society
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