Chronic stress has deleterious effects on immune function, which can lead to adverse health outcomes. However, studies investigating the impact of stress reduction interventions on immunity in clinical research have yielded divergent results, potentially stemming from differences in study design and genetic heterogeneity, among other clinical research challenges. To test the hypothesis that reducing glucocorticoid levels enhances certain immune functions, we administered influenza vaccine once (prime) or twice (boost) to mice housed in either standard control caging or environmental enrichment (EE) caging. We have shown that this approach reduces mouse corticosterone production. Compared with controls, EE mice had significantly lower levels of fecal corticosterone metabolites (FCMs) and increased splenic B and T lymphocyte numbers. Corticosterone levels were negatively associated with the numbers of CD19(+) (r(2) = 0.43, p = 0.0017), CD4(+) (r(2) = 0.28, p = 0.0154) and CD8(+) cells (r(2) = 0.20, p = 0.0503). Vaccinated mice showed nonsignificant differences in immunoglobulin G (IgG) titer between caging groups, although EE mice tended to exhibit larger increases in titer from prime to boost than controls; the interaction between the caging group (control versus EE) and vaccine group (prime versus boost) showed a strong statistical trend (cage-group*vaccine-group, F = 4.27, p = 0.0555), suggesting that there may be distinct effects of EE caging on primary versus secondary IgG vaccine responses. Vaccine-stimulated splenocytes from boosted EE mice had a significantly greater frequency of interleukin 5 (IL-5)-secreting cells than boosted controls (mean difference 7.7, IL-5 spot-forming units/10(6) splenocytes, 95% confidence interval 0.24-135.1, p = 0.0493) and showed a greater increase in the frequency of IL-5-secreting cells from prime to boost. Our results suggest that corticosterone reduction via EE caging was associated with enhanced secondary vaccine responses, but had little effect on primary responses in mice. These findings help identify differences in primary and secondary vaccine responses in relationship to stress mediators that may be relevant in clinical studies.
Why are some individuals more vulnerable to persistent weight gain and obesity than are others? Some obese individuals report factors that drive overeating, including lack of control, lack of satiation, and preoccupation with food, which may stem from reward-related neural circuitry. These are normative and common symptoms and not the sole focus of any existing measures. Many eating scales capture these common behaviors, but are confounded with aspects of dysregulated eating such as binge eating or emotional overeating. Across five studies, we developed items that capture this reward-based eating drive (RED). Study 1 developed the items in lean to obese individuals (n?=?327) and examined changes in weight over eight years. In Study 2, the scale was further developed and expert raters evaluated the set of items. Study 3 tested psychometric properties of the final 9 items in 400 participants. Study 4 examined psychometric properties and race invariance (n?=?80 women). Study 5 examined psychometric properties and age/gender invariance (n?=?381). Results showed that RED scores correlated with BMI and predicted earlier onset of obesity, greater weight fluctuations, and greater overall weight gain over eight years. Expert ratings of RED scale items indicated that the items reflected characteristics of reward-based eating. The RED scale evidenced high internal consistency and invariance across demographic factors. The RED scale, designed to tap vulnerability to reward-based eating behavior, appears to be a useful brief tool for identifying those at higher risk of weight gain over time. Given the heterogeneity of obesity, unique brief profiling of the reward-based aspect of obesity using a self-report instrument such as the RED scale may be critical for customizing effective treatments in the general population.
Illness appraisals provide important context to help understand the way individuals cope with chronic illness. In the present study, a qualitative approach to the analysis of HIV diagnosis experience narratives in a sample of 100 people newly diagnosed with HIV revealed five groups that differed in their initial illness appraisals: HIV as Chronic Illness, Concern about Dying, Stigmatization, Threat to Identity, and Other Threats Overshadow HIV. When compared on quantitatively measured depressive mood, the groups differed on level and trajectory over the course of the first year post-diagnosis. Although the experience of living with HIV has changed significantly with the advent of effective Antiretroviral Therapies (ART), there were a number of similarities between the appraisals of this group of participants who were diagnosed post ART and groups who were diagnosed before ART became widely available. Posttest counselors and other HIV service providers should take individual differences in illness appraisals into account in order to help newly HIV-positive clients manage their healthcare and cope adaptively with their diagnosis.
The level of T cell activation in untreated HIV disease is strongly and independently associated with risk of immunologic and clinical progression. The factors that influence the level of activation, however, are not fully defined. Since endogenous glucocorticoids are important in regulating inflammation, we sought to determine whether less optimal diurnal cortisol patterns are associated with greater T cell activation.
In this article we present background, theoretical rationale, and pilot data on the development of an intervention designed to increase positive affect in people living with serious health-related stress. This proof-of-concept study demonstrated that a multiple-component positive affect intervention is feasible and acceptable for people newly diagnosed with HIV. Retention in the intervention and adherence to home practice were high. Participants reported significant increases in positive affect and significant decreases in negative affect. This positive affect intervention can serve as a template for programs to be developed to help people experiencing health-related and other types of life stress.
This study assessed the mental health characteristics of 12 male street prostitutes (MSPs) in Dublin, with particular regard to issues of homelessness, substance abuse, depression, suicidal ideation, and self-esteem. Participants completed five psychometric tests, which indicated that all of the participants had above average levels of depression and suicidal ideation and low levels of self-esteem. This study found that candidates likely to become MSPs are young males with a combination of factors, including a background of childhood sexual or physical abuse, leaving school early, running away from home, and a dependence on heroin.
The narrative responses of 32 people with AIDS or cancer with survival prognoses of 6 months to a year to monthly interview questions about their daily lives were analysed with a team-based qualitative methodology. Two groups emerged: (a) a Maintained Lifeworld Group characterised by one or more of the following: continued engagement with family, friends, and community; the ability to relinquish untenable goals and substitute new, realistic ones; engagement in spirituality and a spiritual practice; and, (b) a Lifeworld Interrupted Group characterised by one or more of the following: relocation just before or during the study, cognitive impairment, commitment to untenable goals, ongoing substance abuse. Understanding how people with a terminal illness can maintain a lifeworld and experience well-being while also managing the physical challenges of their illness could help inform the support offered by professional and family caregivers to improve care recipients quality of life.
Knowledge of effective ways of coping with HIV is critical to help individuals with HIV maintain the best possible psychological and physical well-being. The purpose of the present article is to determine, through meta-analysis, the strength of the evidence regarding 2 questions: (a) Which types of coping are related to psychological and physical well-being among people with HIV? and (b) Do contextual (pre?post introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapies [HAART]; time since diagnosis), measurement (HIV-related event vs. generic prompts for coping measurement), or individual (gender) variables affect the extent to which coping is related to physical and psychological well-being? The authors analysis demonstrates that Direct Action and Positive Reappraisal were consistently associated with better outcomes in people coping with HIV across affective, health behavior, and physical health categories. In contrast, disengagement forms of coping, such as Behavioral Disengagement and Use of Alcohol or Drugs to Cope, were consistently associated with poorer outcomes. The findings also indicate that in some cases, coping effectiveness was dependent on contextual factors, including time since diagnosis and the advent of HAART.
We examined the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) at 3 US pediatric medical centers, comparing a group of children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with children presenting with chronic constipation.
Stress has been shown to deplete the self-regulation resources hypothesized to facilitate effective role functioning. However, recent research suggests that positive affect may help to replenish these vital self-regulation resources. Based on revised Stress and Coping theory and the Broaden-and-Build theory of positive emotion, three studies provide evidence of the potential adaptive function of positive affect in the performance of roles for participants experiencing stress. Participants were students (Study 1), caregivers of ill children (Study 2), and individuals recently diagnosed with HIV (Study 3). In cross sectional analyses, using role functioning as an indicator of self-regulation performance, we found that positive affect was significantly correlated with better self regulation performance, independent of the effects of negative affect. The effects were not as strong longitudinally, however, and there was little evidence of a reciprocal association between increases in positive affect and improvements in role functioning over time. The results provide some modest support for hypotheses stemming from the Broaden and Build model of positive emotion and revised Stress and Coping theory, both of which argue for unique adaptive functions of positive affect under stressful conditions.
Many debilitating symptoms arise from cancer and its treatment that are often unrelieved by established methods. Pranayama, a series of yogic breathing techniques, may improve cancer-related symptoms and quality of life, but it has not been studied for this purpose.
Background. Pediatric hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) is a lifesaving treatment that often results in physical and psychological discomfort. An acupressure-massage intervention may improve symptom management in this setting. Methods. This randomized controlled pilot trial compared a combined massage-acupressure intervention to usual care. Children were offered three practitioner-provided sessions per week throughout hospitalization. Parents were trained to provide additional acupressure as needed. Symptoms were assessed using nurses reports and two questionnaires, the behavioral affective and somatic experiences scale and the Peds quality of life cancer module. Results. We enrolled 23 children, ages 5 to 18. Children receiving the intervention reported fewer days of mucositis (Hedges g effect size ES = 0.63), lower overall symptom burden (ES = 0.26), feeling less tired and run-down (ES = 0.86), having fewer moderate/severe symptoms of pain, nausea, and fatigue (ES = 0.62), and less pain (ES = 0.42). The intervention group showed trends toward increasing contentness/serenity (ES = +0.50) and decreasing depression (ES = -0.45), but not decreased anxiety (ES = +0.42). Differences were not statistically significant. Discussion. Feasibility of studying massage-acupressure was established in children undergoing HCT. Larger studies are needed to test the efficacy of such interventions in reducing HCT-associated symptoms in children.
Chronic stress is associated with negative health outcomes and is linked with neuroendocrine changes, deleterious effects on innate and adaptive immunity, and central nervous system neuropathology. Although stress management is commonly advocated clinically, there is insufficient mechanistic understanding of how decreasing stress affects disease pathogenesis. Therefore, we have developed a "calm mouse model" with caging enhancements designed to reduce murine stress. Male BALB/c mice were divided into four groups: control (Cntl), standard caging; calm (Calm), large caging to reduce animal density, a cardboard nest box for shelter, paper nesting material to promote innate nesting behavior, and a polycarbonate tube to mimic tunneling; control exercise (Cntl Ex), standard caging with a running wheel, known to reduce stress; and calm exercise (Calm Ex), calm caging with a running wheel. Calm, Cntl Ex and Calm Ex animals exhibited significantly less corticosterone production than Cntl animals. We also observed changes in spleen mass, and in vitro splenocyte studies demonstrated that Calm Ex animals had innate and adaptive immune responses that were more sensitive to acute handling stress than those in Cntl. Calm animals gained greater body mass than Cntl, although they had similar food intake, and we also observed changes in body composition, using magnetic resonance imaging. Together, our results suggest that the Calm mouse model represents a promising approach to studying the biological effects of stress reduction in the context of health and in conjunction with existing disease models.
Disclosing HIV status to friends, family, and sex partners is often stressful. However, HIV disclosure has been associated with improved physical health, psychological well-being, and improved health behaviors. The aim of this study was to address some of the gaps in the literature regarding the disclosure process by conducting a mixed-methods study of disclosure in people newly diagnosed with HIV and the relationship of disclosure to stigma and social support. The CHAI (Coping, HIV, and Affect Interview) Study was a longitudinal cohort study that followed individuals who were newly diagnosed with HIV. The study took place from October 2004 to June 2008 in the San Francisco Bay Area. This sample includes data from 50 participants who were interviewed 1, 3, and 9 months following diagnosis with HIV. We identified four main approaches to HIV disclosure that revealed distinct differences in how participants appraised disclosure, whether disclosure was experienced as stressful, and whether disclosure or nondisclosure functioned as a way of coping with an HIV diagnosis. Implications of these findings for disclosure counseling are discussed.
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