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How do genes and the environment affect one's health (through what pathways)?

Genes and environment (independently and through interaction) affect the BRAIN --> influence PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAITS (e.g. hostility), HEALTH BEHAVIORS (e.g. Smoking) and NEUROENDOCRINE SYSTEM (e.g. Stress hormones, activation of autonomic nervous system)


What is social support?

1. QUANTITATIVE: Number of contacts, group memberships.

2. TANGIBLE: People that can help you meet your needs

3. EMOTIONAL: Sharing hopes, dreams and fears.

(QTE: Cutie!)


What were the main findings of studies that investigated the connection between social isolation and mortality rate in healthy persons?

- Those with fewer social ties more likely to die (and those with higher # of ties and activities had reduced mortality)

- Low PERCEIVED social support can also increase mortality.

- More social ties not only protects against serious illnesses, but even helps recovery from the common cold!


Does the intimacy of contacts matter, or is it sufficient to have contacts?

Having INTIMATE contacts has more protective benefits than merely having contacts.


How do social and economic resources affect the prognosis of patients with coronary artery disease?

Low levels of social and economic resources contributed to increased risk of cardiovascular death over an extended follow-up period. (While the medical severity of the disease was the strongest predictor of survival, social and economic resources contributed up to 12% of total prognostic information!)

This was true even after all known medical prognostic factors, such as severity of CAD and left ventricular dysfunction, were controlled for!


What is a tool that can be used to assess people's perceptions of support?

Cohen's ISEL (Interpersonal Support Evaluation)


What were the findings of studies that investigated the link between perceived social support and mortality in CAD patients?

Those with higher ISEL scores (greater perceived social support) had reduced mortality rates of 19% - significant, as beta-blockers on post-MI patients only reduced mortality by 23%!

Higher ISEL scores were also associated with better physical, mental, emotional and social function!


What were the main findings of a study that investigated the link between negative affect, social support and quality of sleep in caregivers vs non-caregivers?

Caregiving is related directly to poor sleep, and also indirectly by way of negative affect and level of social support.

- Social support and negative affect were strongly negatively correlated (i.e. High negative affect was associated with low social support and vice versa)

- When social support and negative affect are controlled for, correlation between caregiving and poor sleep is NO LONGER SIGNIFICANT.

- When devising interventions for caregivers, it is important to assess negative affect as well!