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Exposure to violence and cardiovascular and neuroendocrine measures in adolescents Murali, Rama

Abstract

This study examined the influence of multiple dimensions of exposure to violence (EXPV) on biological basal and reactivity measures in adolescents. 115 high school students participated. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP, DBP), heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV) and Cortisol levels were recorded during baseline and in response to an acute stressor. The EXPV interview was administered and assessed two dimensions: total observed violence and total personally experienced violence. These were then divided into component parts: lifetime frequency, proximity, and severity. Greater total experienced violence was associated with increased basal SBP (r = .19, p < .05), and decreased acute stress reactivity in terms of SBP (β = -.13,/? = .05), HR (β = -.21, p = .00), and HRV (β = .13, p = .05). The lifetime frequency of experienced violence subcomponent was associated with higher basal DBP (r = .33, p < .05), HR (r = .33, p < .05), and Cortisol (r = .53,p < .001), and decreased SBP (β = -.27,p < .05), DBP (p = -.31, β < .05) reactivity. EXPV is associated with increased biological basal levels in adolescents, supporting allostatic load research. EXPV is associated with decreased cardiovascular reactivity, supporting the inoculation effect. The findings with experienced violence illustrate that being a victim of violence has more pervasive biological consequences than observation. The associations with frequency of experienced violence illustrate that accumulation of stressful experiences has the greatest effect on biological markers.

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