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Article Summaries for November–December 2020 Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 82, Issue 9

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000881
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The death of one’s parent during childhood is a challenging life event with potential long-term adverse health consequences. Chen et al. investigated the link between early parental death during childhood and subsequent ischemic heart disease (IHD) and stroke. Maternal loss was associated with an increased IHD risk whether the cause of parental death was cardiovascular or unnatural; paternal deaths were associated with later IHD only when the death was due to cardiovascular diseases. Parental loss was not related to stroke risk.

Pages 810–816;

Previous studies have found evidence for an association between early psychological stress and diabetes later in life. Using patients’ school reports and their recollection of perceived social support, Upadhyaya et al. examined parental alcohol problems and divorce and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in men. Parental alcohol problems, but not parental divorce, were associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in men. The findings highlight the need for early interventions targeting parents with excessive alcohol consumption in order to reduce offspring risk of lifestyle-related disorders.

Pages 817–822;

Individual differences in the development of stress regulation systems may contribute to increased risk for the psychopathology observed during adolescence. Zhang et al. investigated sex differences in the association between circadian cortisol rhythm maturation with multiple forms of psychopathology. Girls showed no significant pubertal changes in diurnal cortisol activity. Development of diurnal cortisol activity during puberty occurs in a sex-specific manner. Awakening cortisol level and daily total cortisol output may serve as markers for psychopathology during pubertal transition.

Pages 823–829;

In adults aged 53 to 76, Steptoe et al. assessed the role of financial strain, which is the perception that income is not adequate to pay bills and provide for the household, on a wide range of outcomes. Financial strain was related to more depressive symptoms and loneliness, lower self-esteem, troubled sleep, and poorer self-reported physical health. It was also associated with disrupted cardiovascular responses to mental stress tasks. The results provide further evidence that financial strain is a chronic stressor with implications for mental and physical health risk.

Pages 830–837;

In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Kowal et al. show that the risk of venous thromboembolism (pulmonary embolism and/or deep vein thrombosis) is increased among patients with psychotic and bipolar disorders. Psychiatric disorders may be particularly associated with hypercoagulability and stasis factors. In adjusted analyses only, patients with depression and anxiety disorders also showed an increased risk of venous thromboembolism.

Pages 839–849;

Alterations of cardiac interoception have been reported across disparate neurological disorders. Abrevaya et al. used a computational approach to evaluate which markers of cardiac interoception best distinguish a neurological group from a comparison group of patients with cardiac disease and also within neurological diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, multiple sclerosis and stroke). Substantial differences were found between neurological versus cardiac diseases in a subset of cardiac interoceptive measures, but not between the various neurological conditions. The results suggest a diffuse pattern of cardiac interoceptive alterations across neurological conditions, highlighting the potential role of the alterations as transdiagnostic correlates.

Pages 850–861;

Higher levels of pain have been associated with more severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a traumatic injury. The influence on post-injury outcomes of pain experienced within the critical period of the first month post-injury has not been studied. Connor et al. identified three pain trajectories: low pain, decreasing pain, and high pain over the first month after injury. From baseline to 3 months, the high-pain class experienced an increase in PTSD symptoms and persistent high depression and functional impairment, whereas the low-pain class experienced reductions in all symptoms.

Pages 862–868;

Aging affects the functioning of pain-related neural networks. González-Roldán et al. investigated the neural processing of pain and the efficacy of distraction in healthy older adults. In comparison to younger adults, older adults showed an attenuated neural response to pain but increased pain ratings. Nevertheless, cognitive distraction to decrease pain perception was effective in both groups. The results support the use of distraction as a therapeutic approach for older adults when pain intensity is moderate.

Pages 869–876;

Environmental enrichment can reduce stress, alter immunity, and speed wound healing in animals. Law et al. investigated the effects of sensory enrichment on stress and skin barrier recovery in humans after a laboratory stressor. The sensory enrichment consisted of either listening to music or interacting with Paro, a pet-like companion robot. Findings demonstrated that interacting with Paro improved skin healing rates compared to a control condition of sitting quietly. This effect was mediated by levels of enjoyment.

Pages 810–816;

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