Psychosocial Pathways and Health
Psychosocial factors refer to the stress and support people experience in their lives for different reasons. For example, this might be the support people receive from friends and family or significant events in their lives - good and bad - such as getting married, having a baby, the death of a family member or losing your job. We are interested in exploring how these kinds of factors lead to biological changes in the body that might affect health.
With Gonnie Klabbers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands we are investigating the ways in which people’s beliefs about how much they can control their health and other psychosocial factors can explain the social patterning of their health. Here we are particular interested in whether key biological processes might be important in this relationship.
In collaboration with Professor Doug Carroll and Dr Anna Phillips, in the 1995 sweep of Twenty-07, we examined respondents’ heart and blood pressure reactions to a stress test. High heart and blood pressure reactions have been shown to lead to future increases in blood pressure (more info) and heart disease. Given this, you would expect that low reactions to stress would be protective of future health risks, but this has not been found to be true. For example, we have recently shown that low blood pressure reactivity is associated with an increase in depressive symptoms (more info), increased likelihood of developing obesity (more info), higher levels of physical disabilities (more info) and a decline in self-reported health (more info). Ongoing research is trying to understand these findings.
Robertson T, Benzeval M, Whitley E, Popham F. The role of material, psychosocial and behavioral factors in mediating the association between socioeconomic position and allostatic load. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 2015;45:41-9open access
Klabbers G, Bosma H, Kempen GI, Benzeval M, Van den Akker M, van Eijk JT. Do psychosocial profiles predict self-rated health, morbidity and mortality in late middle-aged and older people?. Journal of Behavioral Medicine 2014;37:357–368pubmed open access
Green MJ, Benzeval M. The development of socioeconomic inequalities in anxiety and depression symptoms over the lifecourse. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2013;48:1951-1961pubmed open access
Hannah MK, Batty GD, Benzeval M. Common mental disorders and mortality in the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study: comparing the General Health Questionnaire and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 2013;67:558-563open access
Phillips AC, Robertson T, Carroll D, Der G, Shiels PG, McGlynn L, Benzeval M. Do symptoms of depression predict telomere length? Evidence from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study. Psychosomatic Medicine 2013;75:288-296pubmed
Carroll D, Ginty A, Der G, Hunt K, Benzeval M, Phillips AC. Increased blood pressure reactions to acute mental stress are associated with 16-year cardiovascular disease mortality. Psychophysiology 2012;49:1444–1448open access
Green MJ, Espie CA, Hunt K, Benzeval M. The longitudinal course of insomnia symptoms: inequalities by gender and occupational class among two different age cohorts followed for 20 years in the West of Scotland. Sleep 2012;35:815-23pubmed open access
Carroll D, Phillips AC, Der G, Hunt K, Benzeval M. Blood pressure reactions to acute mental stress and future blood pressure status: data from the 12-year follow-up in the West of Scotland Study. Psychosomatic Medicine 2011;73:737-42pubmed
Ginty A T, Phillips AC, Der G, Deary IJ, Carroll D. Heart rate reactivity is associated with future cognitive ability and cognitive change in a large community sample. International Journal of Psychophysiology 2011;82:167-74pubmed
Phillips AC, Der G, Shipton D, Benzeval M. Prospective associations between cardiovascular reactions to acute psychological stress and change in physical disability in a large community sample. International Journal of Psychophysiology 2011;81:332-7pubmed
Phillips C, Hunt K, Der G, Carroll D. Blunted cardiac reactions to acute psychological stress predict symptoms of depression five years later: evidence from a large community study. Psychophysiology 2011;48:142-8pubmed