Using Affectionate Communication as a Response to Acute Stress

This study has been completed.
Sponsor:
Collaborator:
Information provided by:
Arizona State University
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier:
NCT00468572
First received: May 1, 2007
Last updated: January 6, 2012
Last verified: January 2012
  Purpose

This study will examine the effects of tending to significant social relationships on managing and reducing stress.


Condition Intervention
Stress
Behavioral: Affectionate Writing
Behavioral: Meaningless Writing

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single Blind (Subject)
Primary Purpose: Basic Science
Official Title: Affectionate Communication as a Mechanism for Responding to Acute Stress

Further study details as provided by Arizona State University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Oxytocin levels [ Time Frame: Measured at Hour 2 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
  • Cortisol levels [ Time Frame: Measured at Hour 2 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Self-reported stress level [ Time Frame: Measured at Hour 2 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]

Estimated Enrollment: 120
Study Start Date: February 2007
Study Completion Date: December 2007
Primary Completion Date: December 2007 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: 1
Participants will receive treatment with affectionate writing
Behavioral: Affectionate Writing
Participants assigned to the experimental group will spend 20 minutes writing an affectionate letter to a loved one. Levels of cortisol will be measured using saliva samples from each participant during the writing session. Levels of oxytocin, a hormone known to transmit signals within the brain and often associated with bonding and building trusting relationships, will be measured from blood samples taken during the writing session as well.
Active Comparator: 2
Participants will receive treatment with meaningless writing
Behavioral: Meaningless Writing
Participants assigned to the control group will spend 20 minutes writing about meaningless topics. Participants will undergo the same testing during the writing session as the experimental group.

Detailed Description:

Stress is a large part of daily modern life; however, it can cause a number of long-term problems for mental and physical health. Recent research has confirmed that there are definite mental and physical health benefits of maintaining significant positive social bonds. Many of these benefits appear to be associated with the ability to regulate stress that is caused by environmental challenges. Drawing on close relationships and expressing affection may help people to recover from stress more effectively. This study will evaluate the tend-and-befriend theory, which suggests that engaging in behaviors aimed at maintaining and strengthening significant social bonds can act as an adaptive response to acute stress.

All participants in this study will undergo a series of standard laboratory stressors designed to elevate cortisol levels. Cortisol, also known as the "stress hormone," is activated and secreted within the body in response to stress. Current research suggests that displaying signs of affection toward a loved one can lower cortisol levels, causing the body to relax and recover from a stressful situation more quickly. After lab tests have been completed, participants will be randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. Participants assigned to the experimental group will spend 20 minutes writing an affectionate letter to a loved one. Participants assigned to the control group will spend 20 minutes writing about meaningless topics. Levels of cortisol will be measured using saliva samples from each participant during the writing session. Levels of oxytocin, a hormone known to transmit signals within the brain and often associated with bonding and building trusting relationships, will be measured from blood samples taken during the writing session as well. Participants will also provide a self-report of their current stress level at the end of the study. Participation in this study will last approximately 2 hours. By examining associations between the communication of affection and responses to acute stress, this study may eventually lead to the development of new and better treatment options for people with constant acute stress.

  Eligibility

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 75 Years
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes
Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  • English-speaking
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Moderate to no anxiety about having blood drawn

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Hypertension or diabetes
  • Current or recent pregnancy
  • Colorblindness
  • History of cancer
  • Current use of alpha blockers, beta blockers, or steroids
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00468572

Locations
United States, Arizona
Exercise and Sports Research Institute
Tempe, Arizona, United States, 85287
Sponsors and Collaborators
Arizona State University
Investigators
Principal Investigator: Kory Floyd, PhD Arizona State University
  More Information

Additional Information:
No publications provided

Responsible Party: Kory Floyd/PI, Arizona State University
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00468572     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: R03 MH75757, R03MH075757, DATR A2-A1A
Study First Received: May 1, 2007
Last Updated: January 6, 2012
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Keywords provided by Arizona State University:
Emotion
Oxytocin
Cortisol

ClinicalTrials.gov processed this record on July 24, 2014