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Teasing Apart the Effects of Cognition, Stress, and Depression on Health

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Objective: To test whether cognitive vulnerability could explain the link between depression and poor health. Methods: A 4-week longitudinal design was used to examine health problems (eg, diabetes), health behaviors (eg, smoking), depressive symptoms, cognitive vulnerability, and life stress in a sample of 154 undergraduates. Results: Contrary to hypotheses, depressive symptoms, but not cognitive vulnerability, were associated with health problems. However, as predicted, cognitive vulnerability was a better predictor of prospective changes in specific health behaviors than were depressive symptoms. Unexpectedly, life stress was the best predictor of prospective changes in specific health behaviors. Conclusions: These results are among the first to show that the factors associated with health problems are different than those associated with specific health behaviors.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Publication date: September 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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