Cardiovascular reactivity, post 9/11 distress and religiosity in Jewish women
Von Bergen, Heather A.
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The notion that the September 11th terrorist attacks have evolved into a chronic health-eroding stressor, by virtue of their worldwide socio-political impact was examined. One-hundred Orthodox Jewish, undergraduate, females age 18 years - 23 years (mean = 19.95 years, SD =0.89) were recruited. Participants provided demographic information and, with a distressing post 9/11 world event in mind, completed the Impact of Event Scale (IES) and the Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWBS). Measures of systolic blood (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and heart rate were recorded during 10 min baseline, task, and recovery periods. During task, participants were administered a modified version of the Social Competence Interview (SCI), which is known to provoke cardiovascular responses. It was expected that participants who endorsed greater post 9/11 distress would have greater cardiovascular reactivity (CVR) in response to stress provocation. Additionally, it was hypothesized that greater distress would lead to increased spiritual well-being (SWB), which would decrease CVR to acute stress and, therefore, mediate the relationship between post 9/11 distress and CVR. Principal component analyses were conducted with the IES and SWBS which confirmed previous work that questioned the dimensionally of these instruments and extracted three components for the IES (i.e., intrusion, avoidance, and numbing/dissociation) and the SWBS (i.e., religious well-being, life satisfaction, and life direction). Multiple regression analyses were performed to test hypotheses. Although there were no beneficial effects noted with regard to SWB on CVR, analyses of individual variables suggested that numbing/dissociation symptoms, associated with post 9/11 events, may predict decreased SBP reactivity in response to stress provocation (beta = -0.30, p < .01) and decreased life direction (R = .27, F (3, 93) = 2.49, p = .07). Additionally, evidence suggested that avoidance, associated with post 9/11 events, may predict increased DBP reactivity in response to acute stress (beta = 0.27, p < .05). Future investigations with an adequate sample size are expected to contain enough power to yield significant medium to small effects (ƒ 2 = .075) where these findings are concerned. Results are discussed in light of coping and the need for measures more sensitive to religious participants.
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