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1.  Birth weight and perceived stress reactivity in older age 
Stress reactivity is a disposition that underlies individual differences in stress responses, thereby affecting vulnerability for the development of disease. Besides genetic and early postnatal environmental factors, stress reactivity has been shown to be influenced by an adverse prenatal developmental environment, but it is unclear if such effects persist into older age. We tested associations between fetal growth and perceived stress reactivity in 421 participants from the Hertfordshire Cohort at age 66 to 75 years. Regression analysis showed a U-shaped association between birth weight and perceived stress reactivity, with increased levels of stress reactivity at the lower and upper end of the birth weight distribution. These effects were stable after adjustment for markers of early adversity and recent adversity and chronic stress. Although the effects were small, they are consistent with findings from studies in younger cohorts, and demonstrate that such effects can persist into older age.
doi:10.1002/smi.2425
PMCID: PMC3691788  PMID: 22396064
Stress reactivity; Perceived Stress Reactivity Scale (PSRS); Fetal growth; Prenatal adversity; Fetal programming; Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD); Birth weight; Hertfordshire Cohort Study; Older age; Elderly
2.  Applying the Stress and ‘Strength’ Hypothesis to Black Women’s Breast Cancer Screening Delays 
Associations between stress and breast cancer highlight stressful life events as barriers to breast cancer screening, increased stress due to a breast cancer scare or diagnosis, or the immunosuppressive properties of stress as a risk factor for breast cancer occurrence. Little is known, however, about how women’s reactions to stressful life events impact their breast health trajectory. In this study, we explore how reactions to stressors serve as a potential barrier to breast cancer screening among Black women. We apply a gender-specific, culturally responsive stress-process framework, the Stress and ‘Strength’ Hypothesis (“strength hypothesis”), to understand links between the ‘Strong Black Woman role’ role, Black women’s stress reactions and their observed screening delays. We conceptualize strength as a culturally prescribed coping style that conditions resilience, self-reliance and psychological hardiness as a survival response to race-related and gender-related stressors. Using qualitative methods, we investigate the potential for this coping mechanism to manifest as extraordinary caregiving, emotional suppression and self-care postponement. These manifestations may result in limited time for scheduling and attending screening appointments, lack of or delay in acknowledgement of breast health symptoms and low prioritization of breast care. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
doi:10.1002/smi.2464
PMCID: PMC3696631  PMID: 23129558
Black women; strength; stress; breast cancer screening; coping
3.  Depressive symptoms and bodily pain: The role of physical disability and social stress 
Summary
This study evaluates the bi-directional association between depressive symptoms and bodily pain, and examines the role of physical disability and perceived social stress in the depression—pain relationship. Data are employed from a two-wave panel study of Miami-Dade county residents (n = 1,459) that includes a substantial over-sampling of individuals who identify as physically-disabled. Findings indicate that the bi-directional relationship between depression and pain is similar for those with and without a physical disability. Results also demonstrate that stress exposure, specifically recent life events and daily discrimination, partially mediated the relationship between prior levels of depression and changes in pain. Directions for future research and the need for a more comprehensive model of health incorporating physical, psychological, and social factors are discussed.
doi:10.1002/smi.1319
PMCID: PMC3045212  PMID: 21359108
depression; bodily pain; social stress; physical disability
4.  A Person-Focused Analysis of Resilience Resources and Coping in Diabetes Patients 
This study investigated the resilience resources and coping profiles of diabetes patients. A total of 145 patients with diabetes completed a questionnaire packet including two measurements of coping (COPE and Coping Styles questionnaires), and personal resources. Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) was also assessed. Resilience was defined by a factor score derived from measures of self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-mastery, and optimism. All of the maladaptive coping subscales were negatively associated with resilience (r's range from −.34 to −.56, all p's <.001). Of the adaptive coping subscales, only acceptance, emotional support, and pragmatism were positively associated with resilience. The upper, middle, and lower tertiles of the resilience factor were identified and the coping profiles of these groups differed significantly, with low resilience patients favoring maladaptive strategies much more than those with high or moderate resilience resources. Resilience groups did not differ in HbA1c levels; correlation coefficients of the coping subscales with HbA1c were explored. This study demonstrates a link between maladaptive coping and low resilience, suggesting that resilience impacts one's ability to manage the difficult treatment and lifestyle requirements of diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2880488  PMID: 20526415
Diabetes; Resilience; Coping; HbA1c

Results 1-4 (4)