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Repression following a series of natural disasters: Immune and Neuroendocrine correlates

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The influence of repression on peripheral blood lymphocyte surface markers and diurnal decline in salivary cortisol following multiple disasters was examined. Participants were sampled at 2 to 8 weeks after a severe fire and flood, and again 1 year later. High distress, low distress, and repression groups were formed utilizing self-reported distress and systolic blood pressure during a disaster recall interview. A main effect for group was identified for CD56+ cells (NK cells), with repressors and high distress participants demonstrating lower percentage of NK cells than low distress participants. At Time 1 repressors demonstrated significantly higher percentage of CD56+CD69+ cells (activated NK cells) than high and low distress participants. From Time 1 to Time 2, repressor participants showed a significant decline in the percentage of activated NK cells. Repressors demonstrated attenuated decline in salivary cortisol compared to low distress participants. Health implications for disaster recovery are discussed.
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Keywords: Cortisol; Denial; Disaster; Immunity; Repression; Stress

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology University of Colorado at Colorado Springs 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway CO 80933-7150 Colorado Springs 2: Centura Health/ Penrose St. Francis Hospital 3: University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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