Dyadic Coping and Inflammation in the Context of Chronic Stress

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Abstract

Objective: Marital quality impacts inflammatory processes. Dyadic coping, a spousal support process in which members of a couple work together to cope with the stressors that 1 or both partners are facing, is associated with higher marital satisfaction and reduced psychological distress. The goal of the present study was to evaluate whether dyadic coping is also related to systemic inflammation among individuals facing chronic parenting stress. Method: Forty-four parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder completed self-report questionnaires on dyadic coping, marital satisfaction, perceived social support, and caregiving burden. They also provided a blood sample for C-reactive protein (CRP) analysis, a marker of systemic inflammation. Results: Higher positive dyadic coping was significantly associated with lower circulating CRP, while negative dyadic coping was unrelated to CRP. After adjusting for individual differences in marital satisfaction, perceived social support, and caregiving burden, positive dyadic coping became marginally associated with CRP. Conclusion: Positive dyadic coping is a specific interpersonal process that may modulate systemic inflammation among individuals exposed to chronic stress.

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