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01-08-2010 | Uitgave 4/2010

Journal of Behavioral Medicine 4/2010

Blood pressure reactivity predicts somatic reactivity to stress in daily life

Journal of Behavioral Medicine > Uitgave 4/2010
Clayton J. Hilmert, Scott Ode, Desiree J. Zielke, Michael D. Robinson


The purpose of the present study was to examine whether stress-somatic symptom associations may be more pronounced among individuals whose bodies exhibit higher levels of cardiovascular reactivity to a laboratory social stress task. During an initial laboratory session, participants delivered a 5-min speech and individual differences in cardiovascular reactivity were quantified. The same participants subsequently completed a 15-day experience sampling protocol, in which daily levels of stress and somatic symptoms were assessed. Multi-level modeling was used to assess associations among laboratory cardiovascular reactivity, daily stress and somatic symptoms. Daily symptom reports included a set of commonly experienced physical symptoms reflective of general bodily dysfunction. Individuals displaying high levels of laboratory systolic blood pressure reactivity experienced more somatic symptoms on high-stress days, but this was not the case for individuals low in systolic blood pressure reactivity. The results bridge two hitherto distinct health psychology literatures showing that cardiovascular and somatic reactivity to stress are associated. Stress reactivity individual differences in one system may indicate more general differences in bodily reactivity across systems.

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