Diminished cardiovascular stress reactivity is associated with lower levels of social participation


Neha A. John-Henderson, Cory J. Counts, Courtney S. Sanders, Annie T. Ginty


Journal of Psychosomatic Research


Diminished cardiac reactions to acute psychological stress are associated with adverse behavioral and health-relevant outcomes. It has been proposed that diminished cardiac reactivity may be a marker for deficits in motivational functioning both at the biological and behavioral levels. Social participation reflects the frequency with which individuals participate in social events and has motivational components. As such, it is a distinct construct from other constructs such as social integration, which measures the number of social roles an individual has. Additionally, lower levels of social participation and diminished reactivity have been associated with similar adverse health outcomes. Therefore, it is possible that diminished cardiac reactivity is associated with lower levels of social participation. We aimed to examine whether diminished cardiovascular reactivity in response to an acute lab stressor was associated with reported social participation. The analyses were conducted using publicly available data from the Pittsburgh Cold Study 3 (PCS3). The PCS3 was a prospective viral-challenge study, which included participants completing an in-lab social evaluative stressor (N?=?202, Age?=?M?=?29.71, SD?=?10.66) and measuring cardiovascular responses at baseline and in response to the stressor. Separate regression analyses for each cardiovascular variable (SBP, DBP, MAP, and HR) demonstrated that lower cardiovascular reactivity was associated with less social participation. These associations were still evident following adjustment for respective baseline cardiovascular levels, age, sex, race, depressive symptomology, body mass index, socioeconomic status, smoking status, and levels of social integration (R2 changes:???0.017; ps???0.02) The findings provide initial evidence that blunted cardiac reactivity may be a precursor to low levels of social participation.



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