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Article Summaries for April 2021 Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 83, Issue 3

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000936
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The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) is frequently used to investigate biobehavioral responses to social stress. To expand the TSST beyond standard laboratory settings, the TSST has recently been adapted to virtual reality environments (V-TSST). Helminen et al. conducted a meta-analysis of the moderating effect of TSST type (traditional TSST or V-TSST) on multiple measures of stress reactivity (i.e., cortisol, heart rate, and self-report). The V-TSST studies demonstrated effect sizes for cortisol, heart rate, and self-reported stress reactivity that were comparable to studies using the traditional TSST.

Pages 200–211;

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is known to be a risk factor for various immune-related disorders. However, the association between PTSD and related autoimmune skin diseases (ASDs) remains unclear. Dai et al. investigated the association of PTSD with the risk of related ASDs. Statistically significant associations were found between PTSD and five individual ASDs, including psoriasis, lichen planus, alopecia areata, autoimmune bullous diseases, and vitiligo. Patients with PTSD had an increased risk of developing ASDs compared to the matched controls.

Pages 212–217;

Weissberger et al. examined the association of socioeconomic status (SES) mobility from childhood to adulthood with psychological and cognitive well-being in African American and non-Hispanic White adults who were either HIV-positive (HIV+) or HIV-seronegative (HIV-). This study is part of an ongoing project investigating psychosocial and neurobehavioral effects of HIV. Findings within the HIV+ group are consistent with previous studies reporting downward mobility to be associated with poor psychological outcomes. People living with HIV may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of socioeconomic instability.

Pages 218–227;

Social pain and physical pain are related bidirectionally but how these variables cluster in the population is unknown. Using latent class analysis, Kroenke et al. found that social and pain symptoms clustered similarly in two population-based cohorts of women, one diagnosed with breast cancer and another community-based. Women in the high social-physical pain cluster—18 percent of each cohort—had the highest mortality rate (HR=1.34; 95%CI=1.05-1.71). Rather than addressing social, pain, depressive, or anxious symptoms in isolation, clinicians may need to consider multipronged approaches.

Pages 228–238;

Zou et al. conducted a meta-analysis to examine whether depression is associated with diabetic retinopathy (DR) in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The results showed that patients with depression were more susceptible to the development of DR. Further investigations are warranted to determine relevant biobehavioral mechanisms involved in this association, which may yield important perspectives for the prevention and treatment of the potentially co-occurring and prevalent conditions of depression and retinopathy.

Pages 239–246;

De Oliviera et al. investigated the association between complete tooth loss and changes in allostatic load (AL) over a period of 12 years among adults in England over the age of 50. An additional aim was to explore the role of fruit and vegetable consumption in explaining the association. Complete tooth loss was associated with the baseline AL score but not with its development over time, whereas the consumption of fruit and vegetables did not help to explain this association. Both dental health and biological aspects of chronic psychological distress, such as allostatic load, may share common determinants earlier in life.

Pages 247–255;

Prior studies indicate that poor mental health early in life is related to worse cardiometabolic health in adulthood. Fewer studies have examined associations in children. In a large sample of Dutch youth, Qureshi et al. found that psychological distress at age 6 was related to increases in a composite measure of cardiometabolic risk (including lipid profile, blood pressure, C-reactive protein, and body mass index) by age 10, suggesting that the physiologic effects of mental health states may manifest in the first decade of life.

Pages 256–264;

Research has consistently found associations between sleep characteristics and cardiovascular disease risk in children and adults. Gump et al. objectively assessed sleep, using actigraphy, and cardiac structure, using echocardiography, in 9- to 11-year-old children. After adjustment for covariates, poor sleep quality (as indicated by movements during sleep and sleep fragmentation) was associated with significantly greater left ventricular mass. The present findings are novel for children and may have implications for long-term cardiovascular health related to poor sleep.

Pages 265–273;

There is a known relationship between depression and heart failure, but uncertainty about the role of poor cardiac pump function as measured by left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). Freedland et al. investigated the relationship between LVEF and depression in 400 hospitalized patients with heart failure. They found no relationship between LVEF and measures of depression. The findings suggest that left ventricular dysfunction does not play a critical role in depression among patients with HF.

Pages 274–282;

Field-based research on inflammation and health is typically limited to baseline measures of circulating cytokines or acute phase proteins, whereas laboratory-based studies can involve a more dynamic approach with ex vivo cell culture methods. McDade et al. aimed to address this gap by validating two field-friendly cell culture protocols, one using a small volume of venous whole blood and another using finger-stick capillary whole blood. Results demonstrated outside-the-lab feasibility of culturing cells and quantifying the inflammatory response to environmental challenges.

Pages 283–290;

Cancer-related cognitive impairment is typically considered a deleterious consequence of the treatments. Cognitive problems and, in particular, deficits in executive functioning, might also lead to poor psychological health. Radin et al. report that poorer executive functioning is associated with disengagement-based coping. Furthermore, disengagement-based coping mediates the associations between poor executive functioning and depressive symptoms. The findings highlight the relevance of considering cancer-related cognitive impairment as a driver of psychological health throughout breast cancer survivorship.

Pages 291–300;

Copyright © 2021 by the American Psychosomatic Society