Heart Rate Variability as an Indicator of Stress and Resilience in HIV+ Adults: An Analysis of a Stigma Related Stress Induction
Description: Learning of a positive diagnosis of HIV may be one of the most challenging and stressful events in life. The memory of this event is emotionally laden, and even years later evokes an emotional response. Similarly, many people living with HIV (PLH) have memories of the first time they were treated differently because of their diagnosis. While research frequently examines the subjective of stress, few studies have examined biological markers of stress in people living with HIV. Heart Rate Variability offers a non-invasive measure of stress. Beyond serving as a biological marker for stress, changes in HRV are also associated with emotional functioning. Research demonstrates decreased HRV levels in patients with Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD. We conducted a repeated measures MANOVA to examine effects of stress induction on HRV in individuals with high and low levels of HIV-related stigma. We found that the high stigma group was significantly different from the low stigma group in regard to changes in participants’ HRV, Wilks’ λ = .50, F (1, 51) = 11.63, p < .001. A hierarchical linear regression examined the relationship between HRV and other measures of stress (Heart Rate and Blood Pressure). We found that systolic blood pressure and heart rate in the stress condition were predictive of HRV (adjusted R2=.29, F (5,46) =4.07, p<.01). Results of our study support the use of HRV as a measure of stress in HIV-positive adults. Additionally, the results of our study demonstrate significant relationships between stigma, social support and stress in HIV-positive adults.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Lewis, Kimberly