Changes in cognitive coping strategies predict EBV-antibody titre change following a stressor disclosure induction

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that emotional disclosure of traumatic or stressful events is associated with facilitating insight into the experience, improving mood, and modulating some aspects of the immune system. The current study examined how cognitive changes and experiental involvement during an emotional disclosure induction protocol relate to immune functioning, as measured by IgG antibody titres to the Epstein-Barr virus viral capsid antigen (EBV-VCA). Seventy-six college undergraduates were randomly assigned to either a disclosure induction or an assessment-only control condition. Experimental subjects met with an experimentar for three weekly 20-min individual sessions during which time they were asked to discuss a stressful or traumatic topic which they had previously discussed only minimally with others. Blood was drawn a week prior to the first session and at one week following the third session. Subjects completed the Impact of Event Scale (IES) after session 1 and at followup, and the extent of experiential involvement in disclosure during each session was assessed by means of the Experiencing Scale. Mood was assessed before and after each disclosure using the Nowlis Mood Adjective Checklist. Although the disclosure induction did not directly affect EBV-VCA antibody titres, individual differences in subjects' ability to involve themselves in the disclosure process and abandon their avoidance of the stressful topic during the course of the 3-wk period were predictive of antibody decrements. These associations were more pronounced for individuals who disclosed older and more troublesome events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-78
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1994

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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