Current 2020-21 Research Projects 

Caregiving and immunity - 

 

Providing care to a sick or disabled relative or friend, i.e. caregiving is a often seen as a stressful role, one that continues over time. Some caregivers cope well with the demands of caring and others do not. When caregivers do not cope so well, they are at an increased health risk due to increased stress. 

We are currently trying to understand when caregiving becomes stressful, and for who, but importantly what are the biological consequences for those most vulnerable to the effects of stress. For this we watn to know what are the implications for inflammatory biomarkers, C-reactive protein and Fibrinogen.  These biomarkers are associated with onset and development of heart disease among other negative health outcomes. Here we are looking at whether caregiving context matters. We think caregiving stress will differ for those who provide care in their own homes compared to those who care outside the home, and it is also not uncommon for people to be caring in both places at the same time, i.e. dual caring. Thus, this will be explored in this current project.

 

We have just finished our analysis, and are currently writing up the study for submission to an academic journal. Stay tuned for updates on our results as they come in!

Caregiving during COVID-19

 

Caregiving during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges for those most vulnerable. It is well established that providing care to others is a stressful experience, but this may be exacerbated as caregivers become more isolated from others as they may have to shield/cocoon their loved ones to protect them from getting infected. 

In our preliminary analysis, we found evidence for an 22% increased risk in depression in caregivers during COVID-19 and those caregivers who were lonely had a 4-times greater risk of being depressed. 

 

We have just finished our analysis, and pre-print is available doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.15.20131532. We have just submitted the paper to an academic journal. 

Personality, life events, attachment, social support, gratitude and emotions
Cardiovascular reactions to stress(CVR), both high and low are associated with negative health outcomes including heart disease and depression. We have several projects looking at how these stress reactions vary by personality, attachment, social support or life stress including how we regulate our emotions. While previous investigations have looked at these factors in isolation we are testing interactions between these factors on CVR. Another area of research in our group is theory testing and extension (e.g. stress buffering hypothesis).