Br J Health Psychol. 2022 Dec 2. doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12638. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: Blunted cardiovascular reactivity is associated with a distinct behavioural profile of greater exposure to early life adversity, coupled with higher levels of behavioural disengagement and symptoms of depression. The present study sought to extend on this work by investigating if behavioural clusters with distinct patterns of reactivity were related to health and behavioural outcomes at baseline and at a 4-year follow-up.
METHODS: Hierarchical cluster analyses were conducted using longitudinal data drawn from the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS 2) Biomarker Project and the MIDUS 3 follow-up 4 years later. During MIDUS, 2 participants (N = 513) underwent a standardized stress testing protocol and had their blood pressure and heart rate monitored throughout. In addition, hierarchical cluster analyses were conducted on responses from measures of early life adversity, behavioural disengagement and depression. Binary logistic regressions were conducted to determine whether cluster membership was related to health and behavioural outcomes which were taken at both time points.
RESULTS: Three behavioural clusters emerged with statistically different blood pressure reactivity patterns. The cluster characterized by greater exposure to early life adversity, higher levels of behavioural disengagement and depressive symptoms, had relatively lower blood pressure reactivity patterns compared with both the exaggerated reactivity cluster and the cluster similar to the sample mean. In fully adjusted models, this cluster was associated with hypertension (p = .050) and depressed affect (p = .033), while Cluster 1 characteristic of an exaggerated blood pressure reactivity profile was associated with depressed affect (p < .001). Cluster membership did not significantly predict future health status.
CONCLUSION: This study extends research on behavioural clusters characteristic of reactivity profiles to demonstrate how they relate to health and behavioural outcomes during MIDUS 2.