Article Summaries for September 2017 Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 79, Issue 7

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Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease has been associated with physical health morbidity, including higher blood pressure. In a 5-year longitudinal study, Mausbach et al. examined the effect of pleasant leisure activities on blood pressure in a cohort of spousal Alzheimer’s patient caregivers. Engagement in pleasant leisure activities was associated with lower blood pressure levels over time and may have cardiovascular benefits for caregivers.
Pages 735–741;
In an accompanying editorial, Kharah M. Ross and Judith E. Carroll review possible mechanisms linking pleasant leisure activities with lower blood pressure in caregivers and discuss the importance of primary health care providers and public policy innovations to reduce the potential adverse medical and psychological consequences of caregiving.
Pages 732–734;
A sense of well-being has been associated with lower levels of inflammation markers in healthy individuals. Okely et al. tested whether this association results in a lower risk of arthritis. In a study of 5622 participants 50 years or older, higher levels of well-being were associated with a reduced risk of arthritis; inflammation, as indexed by C-reactive protein, accounted for a proportion of this association.
Pages 742–748;
In a 17-year study of a diverse sample of men and women infected with HIV, Ironson et al. report that individuals with a higher level of depression during the first year and a half of the study showed worse rates of survival. Results were moderated by race and educational attainment such that depression did not predict survival rates in African Americans or those with low education.
Pages 749–756;
Segerstrom et al. showed that higher estimated IQ levels were associated with lower interleukin-6 levels in a longitudinal study of older adults. The effect was partially explained by higher levels of repetitive thought (RT). More total RT accounted for part of the association of IQ with IL-6. Although some forms of RT such as worry may have negative health correlates for older adults, engaging in RT per se can be beneficial insofar as it also encompasses planning, processing, and coping.
Pages 757–762;
Kuhlman et al. measured diurnal salivary cortisol in 135 women with breast cancer, before the onset of any adjuvant treatment (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation therapy). Depressive symptoms were also measured at study enrollment and 6 months after breast cancer treatment completion. The results suggest that a larger increase in cortisol immediately following waking up in the morning was predictive of subsequent higher levels of depressive symptoms during treatment and recovery from breast cancer.
Pages 763–769;
The relationship between allostatic load (AL) and abnormalities in brain white-matter microstructure, especially the fornix, was examined by Savransky et al. In a study of individuals with schizophrenia and a healthy comparison group, the cumulative physiological effects of stress, in part explains white matter abnormalities in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia patients had higher levels of AL and, in both patients and controls, AL was correlated with the microstructure of the fornix, a white matter tract connecting the hippocampus and subcortical regions.
Pages 770–776;
Research suggests that altered interoception may play a role in anorexia nervosa (AN). Kerr et al. used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine whether individuals with AN have an atypical relationship between their interoceptive experience and brain hemodynamic response to food pictures. Participants performed an interoceptive attention task during which they focused on sensations from the heart, stomach, and bladder, and they rated these sensations. Results revealed differences in this relationship in a number of regions, including the insula and amygdala, between healthy participants and participants with AN.
Pages 777–784;
Using birth cohort data, Cooper et al. tested associations between childhood cognitive ability and age-related changes in physical capability during late midlife.
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