Children raised by parents of low socioeconomic status have elevated rates of morbidity from infectious and cardiovascular diseases throughout the lifespan, as well as a greater risk for premature mortality. Nonetheless, many individuals remain quite healthy throughout adulthood. Cohen et al. investigated whether a positive relationship with parents during childhood may provide a buffer against the increased health risk associated with growing up in a family with low socioeconomic status. Healthy participants were exposed to a common-cold virus and then monitored for the development of an objectively assessed infection and symptoms. The results provided evidence that a positive relationship with parents during childhood protected against the increased risk of cold infections and symptoms in individuals with low childhood socioeconomic status. Interventions to improve child-parent relationships may reduce health risks associated with childhood adversity.
Research has shown that African Americans (AA) have higher total peripheral resistance (TPR), a summative index of peripheral vascular constriction, than European Americans (EA). Elevated blood pressure via TPR is associated with worse health outcomes such as hypertension. The Brownlow et al. meta-analysis and quantitative systematic review of the literature found that AA exhibit higher baseline TPR than EA, and EA showed higher resting cardiac output than AA. These findings provide insight for addressing racial disparities in health.
Sense of coherence (SOC) refers to an individual's general orientation towards life in terms of positive expectations and predictability of environmental challenges and outcomes. Piiroinen et al. combined data from eight prospective cohort studies reporting the association between all-cause mortality and SOC in the general adult population. Meta-analysis showed that a weak SOC increases the risk of mortality by 1.3. Adjusting for age and common risk factors of mortality, such as smoking, did not lessen the association between a weak SOC with an increased risk of mortality.
Despite a growing number of studies associating social integration with alterations in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical functioning, less is known about the underlying biobehavioral mechanisms. Dickman et al. investigated whether daily-life social interactions, affective responses, health behaviors, and personality play a part in the association between social integration and diurnal cortisol slope. Results showed that more socially integrated individuals demonstrate steeper cortisol slopes, and that consistency (i.e., reduced variability) in the nightly sleep midpoint may partially account for this association.
It has generally been presumed that severe psychological stress can have adverse consequences on a pregnancy, but research to date has not been conclusive about effects on infant mortality. László et al. analyzed associations between maternal bereavement the year before or during pregnancy and infant mortality. They found that bereavement in the preconception and/or prenatal period may increase risk of both total infant death and its main subtypes, including sudden infant death syndrome, death due to congenital malformations, and prematurity-related death.
Functional neurological disorder (FND) occurs when a neuropathology cannot be identified for neurological symptoms. Although the underlying mechanisms of FND are not well understood, altered attentional processing and interpretative biases may be involved. Keynejad et al. report evidence that attentional control and interpretative bias is worse in individuals with FND as well as in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) compared to healthy controls. In addition, individuals with CFS also show attentional bias for illness-relevant stimuli whereas individuals with FND did not.
Pain resilience, the ability to maintain behavioral engagement and regulate cognitions and emotions despite intense or prolonged pain, has been shown to protect against negative pain-related outcomes in experiments. Ankawi et al. studied stimulated nociceptors to determine whether resilience and pain relationships differed across tested pain stimuli (differing in the types of nerve fibers involved: A vs. C). Participants with high resilience during cold water immersion reported lower ratings over time than individuals with low resilience. No relationship between resilience and ratings emerged during the pinprick or ischemic tourniquet pain stimuli. Examining outcome variables in addition to pain ratings may help to explain the role of resilience in pain adaptation.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature, Carletto et al. examined the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) on the well-being of people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Results showed that MBI are effective in improving stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms, with lasting effects at long-term follow-up. The findings suggest that MBI represent a valid and effective mind-body intervention to improve the well-being of patients with MS.
Exposure to adverse stressors has been associated with shortening of leukocyte telomere length (LTL). In a longitudinal study, Gerritsen et al. investigated the time course of exposure to life events and LTL to determine whether greater exposure is related to subsequent accelerated LTL shortening. After adjustment for differences in genetic makeup by looking only in monozygotic twins, increased exposure to life stressors was related to decreased LTL. None of the findings were significant when looking only at dizygotic twins.
Schizophrenia is associated with excess mortality related to various medical diseases and an average life expectancy one to two decades shorter than the general population. Hare et al. investigated the relationship between aberrant hippocampal resting-state functional connectivity in schizophrenia and the cumulative subclinical effects of chronic stress on metabolic, cardiovascular, and immune function using the allostatic load index. Findings support basic neuroscience evidence that cumulative stress and hippocampal function are closely connected. Abnormal hippocampal functional communication in schizophrenia may be related to elevated multisystem subclinical disorders as a consequence of adverse biological changes by allostatic load.