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Article Summaries for May 2020 Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 82, Issue 4

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doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000814
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Depression in patients with type 2 diabetes adversely affects glycemic control and heightens risk of complications and death. Increased dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4) activity and decreased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) have been found in peripheral blood samples of individuals with depression. Peripheral blood levels of BDNF are also lower in individuals with type 2 diabetes and inversely associated with plasma glucose levels. Zheng et al. report evidence that oxidative stress might play a mediating role in the negative relationship between DPP4 activity and BDNF, which may contribute to the adverse biobehavioral and clinical consequences of depression in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Pages 350–358;

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus is known to affect memory function, but little is known about its impact on executive function. Jing et al. examined the effect of DKA on executive function in children with type 1 diabetes. Findings suggest children with histories of DKA had significantly poorer performance on a test of executive function. The study also indicated that earlier onset confers greater susceptibility to the effects of DKA on executive function.

Pages 359–365;

Elliott et al. provide a systematic review of the literature on somatic symptoms in children with a chronically ill family member. The strongest relationship between child somatization and familial illness was found in children with a chronically ill parent. Evidence for somatic symptoms in children with an ill sibling was mixed. The review identified novel areas for future research to further the understanding of somatic symptoms in children with a chronically ill family member.

Pages 366–376;

Mennitto et al. examined the influences of cardiovascular and respiratory variables on vasovagal symptoms. The study was part of a randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of behavioral techniques on the prevention of vasovagal reactions in blood donors. While the vasovagal reaction has traditionally been viewed as a primarily cardiovascular event, these data suggest that hyperventilation also plays a role in the development of vasovagal symptoms.

Pages 377–383;

Becoming widowed is associated with an increased risk of mortality. Manvelian et al. examined whether the number of an individual’s close personal relationships has a moderating effect on mortality risk associated with bereavement. Being widowed was associated with an increased risk of early death, particularly among individuals who had fewer than four to six close relationships. Close relationships may offer buffering properties, perhaps by protecting widowed individuals from the adverse effects of stressful experiences or by encouraging engagement in health-promoting behaviors.

Pages 384–392;

Romantic relationships are associated with momentary changes in blood pressure (BP) and better cardiovascular health, but it is not known if momentary increases in BP contribute to longer-term outcomes. In a two-wave study, Cornelius et al. showed that lower ambulatory diastolic BP responses to interactions with romantic partners had were associated with less of a BP increase over time when measured approximately 6 years later.

Pages 393–401;

Despite a well-established association between self-related health (SRH) and physical health outcomes, little is known about potential psychobiological mechanisms responsible for links and whether associations differ by age. Uchino et al. investigated links between SRH and ambulatory blood pressure (ABP), the role of age in moderating risk, and the health behavior and affective mechanisms responsible for such links. Results showed poor SRH was associated with higher ambulatory systolic blood pressure. They highlight potential psychobiological mechanisms linking SRH to longer-term health outcomes. Such work can inform basic theory as well as intervention approaches that target biobehavioral pathways relevant to optimal health and successful aging.

Pages 402–408;

It is well established that behaviors such as smoking, inadequate levels of exercise, and poor diet are associated with the progression of cardiovascular diseases. Changing such behaviors, however, can prove challenging. Broers et al. report the results of a randomized controlled trial that tested the effectiveness in cardiac patients of a personalized program that included delivering messages to patients’ smartphones encouraging them to “do something different,” such as exploring a new area for taking a walk. Patients used devices such as step counters, sleep trackers, and blood pressure monitors to record objective measures. Participants in the intervention condition also received weekly phone calls to assess their progress. The personalized eHealth intervention resulted in significant improvements in lifestyle and were well accepted by patients.

Pages 409–419;

Racial discrimination experiences have persistent effects on stress-related biology with implications for health and cognition. Hittner et al. show that discrimination may influence diurnal cortisol rhythms, in part by way of negative social-evaluative emotions. Findings suggest that daily negative social-evaluative emotions and average negative emotions are important pathways by which racial discrimination gets under the skin, or is embodied, in biological processes related to psychological distress.

Pages 420–431;

There is increasing evidence of an association between psychological well-being and long-term morbidity, but studies addressing potential mechanisms, such as physiological function, are lacking. Deen et al. used data from a large longitudinal cohort to examine the association between changes in emotional vitality and levels and changes in allostatic load (AL). The results showed that an increase in emotional vitality was associated with subsequent lower mean levels of AL.

Pages 432–439;

The quality of physicians’ communication skills has been increasingly recognized as a critical determinant of patient behavior change and better disease outcomes. Boucher et al. systematically reviewed the psychometric properties of, and the skills assessed by, existing assessment tools used to evaluate communication skills among physicians. They identified 45 different assessment tools. There is a high degree of heterogeneity between these tools, in terms of skills assessed. Research is needed to rigorously develop and validate accessible, convenient, “user-friendly” easy to administer and score communication assessment tools.

Pages 440–451;

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