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Cardiovascular Stress Responses in Young Adulthood Associated With Family-of-Origin Relationship Experiences

Luecken, Linda J. PhD; Rodriguez, Anna P. BS; Appelhans, Bradley M. MA

doi: 10.1097/01.psy.0000160466.10397.18
Original Articles

Objective: The impact of relationships within the family-of-origin on the development of physiological stress responses has significant consequences for long-term vulnerability to stress-related illness.

Methods: The current study evaluated systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and heart rate (HR) responses to a challenge task in 150 young adults from families characterized by parental loss, divorce, or intact marriages.

Results: Overall, higher-quality family relationships were associated with stronger recovery of SBP. For DBP and HR, interactions were found in which higher-quality family relationships were associated with stronger recovery in the loss group relative to the divorce and intact groups. Good support was found for a mediational model outlining self-regulatory abilities as a pathway linking family relationships to SBP reactivity and recovery.

Conclusions: Findings provide further evidence that family-of-origin relationship experiences can affect cardiovascular responses to later-life stress.

BMI = body mass index; DBP = diastolic blood pressure; FR = family relationships; HR = heart rate; SBP = systolic blood pressure; SEM = structural equation modeling.

From the Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Linda J. Luecken, PhD, Box 1104, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287. E-mail:

Received for publication July 19, 2004; revision received January 11, 2005.

This research was supported by grant 0130024N (L.J.L.) from the American Heart Association.

Copyright © 2005 by American Psychosomatic Society
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