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Brief cognitive intervention can modulate neuroendocrine stress responses to the Trier Social Stress Test: buffering effects of a compassionate goal orientation.
Psychoneuroendocrinology 2014; 44:60-70P

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a critical mediator linking stress to health. Understanding how to modulate its reactivity could potentially help reduce the detrimental health effects of HPA axis activation. Social evaluative threat is a potent activator of this system. Access to control and coping responses can reduce its reactivity to pharmacological activation. Compassionate or affiliative behaviors may also moderate stress reactivity. Impact of these moderators on social evaluative threat is unknown. Here, we tested the hypotheses that interventions to increase control, coping, or compassionate (versus competitive) goals could reduce HPA-axis response to social evaluative threat.

METHODS

Healthy participants (n=54) were exposed to social evaluative threat using the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). They were randomly assigned to receive one of four different instructions prior to the stressor: Standard TSST instructions (SI), standard instructions with access to "control" (SI Control), or one of two cognitive interventions (CI) that (1) increased familiarity and helped participants prepare coping strategies (CI Coping), or (2) shifted goal orientation from self-promotion to helping others (CI Compassionate Goals). ACTH and cortisol were obtained before and after stress exposure via intravenous catheter.

RESULTS

Control alone had no effect. CI Compassionate Goals significantly reduced ACTH and cortisol responses to the TSST; CI Coping raised baseline levels. Compassionate Goals reduced hormonal responses without reducing subjective anxiety, stress or fear, while increasing expression of pro-social intentions and focus on helping others.

CONCLUSIONS

Brief intervention to shift focus from competitive self-promotion to a goal orientation of helping-others can reduce HPA-axis activation to a potent psychosocial stressor. This supports the potential for developing brief interventions as inoculation tools to reduce the impact of predictable stressors and lends support to growing evidence that compassion and altruistic goals can moderate the effects of stress.

Authors+Show Affiliations

University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, United States. Electronic address: jabelson@umich.edu.Seattle Pacific University, United States.University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, United States.Ohio State University, United States.University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, United States.University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, United States.University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, United States.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial

Language

eng

PubMed ID

24767620

Citation

Abelson, James L., et al. "Brief Cognitive Intervention Can Modulate Neuroendocrine Stress Responses to the Trier Social Stress Test: Buffering Effects of a Compassionate Goal Orientation." Psychoneuroendocrinology, vol. 44, 2014, pp. 60-70.
Abelson JL, Erickson TM, Mayer SE, et al. Brief cognitive intervention can modulate neuroendocrine stress responses to the Trier Social Stress Test: buffering effects of a compassionate goal orientation. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014;44:60-70.
Abelson, J. L., Erickson, T. M., Mayer, S. E., Crocker, J., Briggs, H., Lopez-Duran, N. L., & Liberzon, I. (2014). Brief cognitive intervention can modulate neuroendocrine stress responses to the Trier Social Stress Test: buffering effects of a compassionate goal orientation. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 44, pp. 60-70. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.02.016.
Abelson JL, et al. Brief Cognitive Intervention Can Modulate Neuroendocrine Stress Responses to the Trier Social Stress Test: Buffering Effects of a Compassionate Goal Orientation. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014;44:60-70. PubMed PMID: 24767620.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Brief cognitive intervention can modulate neuroendocrine stress responses to the Trier Social Stress Test: buffering effects of a compassionate goal orientation. AU - Abelson,James L, AU - Erickson,Thane M, AU - Mayer,Stefanie E, AU - Crocker,Jennifer, AU - Briggs,Hedieh, AU - Lopez-Duran,Nestor L, AU - Liberzon,Israel, Y1 - 2014/03/03/ PY - 2013/12/04/received PY - 2014/02/06/revised PY - 2014/02/24/accepted PY - 2014/4/29/entrez PY - 2014/4/29/pubmed PY - 2014/12/30/medline KW - ACTH KW - Compassion KW - Control KW - Coping KW - Cortisol KW - HPA KW - Psychosocial stress KW - Stress KW - Trier Social Stress Test SP - 60 EP - 70 JF - Psychoneuroendocrinology JO - Psychoneuroendocrinology VL - 44 N2 - BACKGROUND: The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a critical mediator linking stress to health. Understanding how to modulate its reactivity could potentially help reduce the detrimental health effects of HPA axis activation. Social evaluative threat is a potent activator of this system. Access to control and coping responses can reduce its reactivity to pharmacological activation. Compassionate or affiliative behaviors may also moderate stress reactivity. Impact of these moderators on social evaluative threat is unknown. Here, we tested the hypotheses that interventions to increase control, coping, or compassionate (versus competitive) goals could reduce HPA-axis response to social evaluative threat. METHODS: Healthy participants (n=54) were exposed to social evaluative threat using the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). They were randomly assigned to receive one of four different instructions prior to the stressor: Standard TSST instructions (SI), standard instructions with access to "control" (SI Control), or one of two cognitive interventions (CI) that (1) increased familiarity and helped participants prepare coping strategies (CI Coping), or (2) shifted goal orientation from self-promotion to helping others (CI Compassionate Goals). ACTH and cortisol were obtained before and after stress exposure via intravenous catheter. RESULTS: Control alone had no effect. CI Compassionate Goals significantly reduced ACTH and cortisol responses to the TSST; CI Coping raised baseline levels. Compassionate Goals reduced hormonal responses without reducing subjective anxiety, stress or fear, while increasing expression of pro-social intentions and focus on helping others. CONCLUSIONS: Brief intervention to shift focus from competitive self-promotion to a goal orientation of helping-others can reduce HPA-axis activation to a potent psychosocial stressor. This supports the potential for developing brief interventions as inoculation tools to reduce the impact of predictable stressors and lends support to growing evidence that compassion and altruistic goals can moderate the effects of stress. SN - 1873-3360 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/24767620/Brief_cognitive_intervention_can_modulate_neuroendocrine_stress_responses_to_the_Trier_Social_Stress_Test:_buffering_effects_of_a_compassionate_goal_orientation_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0306-4530(14)00067-5 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -