Associations between health-related self-protection, diurnal cortisol, and C-reactive protein in lonely older adults

Rebecca Rueggeberg, Carsten Wrosch*, Gregory E. Miller, Thomas W. McDade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

ObjectiveS: The aim of this study was to examine whether health-related self-protection (e.g., using positive reappraisals or avoiding self-blame) prevents lonely older adults from exhibiting increases in diurnal cortisol secretion and higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). Methods: This longitudinal study (n = 122) examined diurnal cortisol levels (area under the curve) at baseline and 2-year follow-up. Levels of CRP were measured at 6-year follow-up. The main predictors included baseline levels of loneliness and health-related self-protection. Results: Among lonely participants, baseline self-protection predicted an amelioration of 2-year increases in diurnal cortisol volume (β =-.34, p = .03) and lower levels of CRP at 6-year follow-up (β =-.42, p = .006). These significant associations were not found among nonlonely participants (β < .14, p = .33). In addition, mediation analyses demonstrated that the buffering effect of self-protection on lonely older adults' levels of CRP at 6-year follow-up was statistically mediated by 2-year changes in cortisol volume (β =-.16, p = .06). Conclusions: These findings suggest that lonely older adults may ameliorate biologic disturbances if they engage in self-protection to cope with their health threats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)937-944
Number of pages8
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Volume74
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Keywords

  • Aging
  • C-reactive protein
  • diurnal cortisol
  • loneliness
  • self-protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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