Hostility and physiological responses to acute stress in people with type 2 diabetes

Ruth A. Hackett*, Antonio I. Lazzarino, Livia A. Carvalho, Mark Hamer, Andrew Steptoe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Hostility is associated with cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, and one of the mechanisms may involve heightened reactivity to mental stress. However, little research has been conducted in populations at high risk for cardiovascular disease. The aim of the present study was to assess the relationship between hostility and acute stress responsivity in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Methods: A total of 140 individuals (median age [standard deviation] 63.71 [7.00] years) with Type 2 diabetes took part in laboratory-based experimental stress testing. Systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6), and salivary cortisol were assessed at baseline, during two stress tasks, and 45 and 75 minutes later. Cynical hostility was assessed using the Cook Medley Cynical Hostility Scale. Results: Participants with greater hostility scores had heightened increases in IL-6 induced by the acute stress tasks (B = 0.082, p =.002), independent of age, sex, body mass index, smoking, household income, time of testing, medication, and baseline IL-6. Hostility was inversely associated with cortisol output poststress (B = -0.017, p =.002), independent of covariates. No associations between hostility and blood pressure or heart rate responses were observed. Conclusions: Hostile individuals with Type 2 diabetes may be susceptible to stress-induced increases in inflammation. Further research is needed to understand if such changes increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-466
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number4
Early online date15 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2015


  • Hostility
  • Interleukin-6
  • Psychological stress
  • Salivary cortisol
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus


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